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Plasma: The Blood Product You’ve Never Heard Of

Blood transfusions are the headline-grabbing hero of what we do. Blood transfusions save lives every day, and they truly deserve all the celebration they can get. But what about the quiet achiever buoying your red cells, what about plasma?

Unless you have donated plasma, you may not know all the ways it can save lives. Plasma is so modest about its achievements that even people who regularly receive the products made from plasma sometimes don’t know that a real-life hero contributed to their medicine.  

Plasma is the liquid in which your red and white cells, and platelets are suspended, and it makes up about 55% of your total blood volume. You donate a bit of it when you make any blood donation, but you can also donate plasma by itself, through a process where we separate your red and white cells and your platelets and return them to you.

Plasma is magic stuff

It goes on to make up to 18 different treatments, including those that help stop critical bleeding, or treat brain disorders, or fight infection, or treat complications from severe burns. If you’ve ever had a tetanus shot after an injury, you may have received plasma products, which are used to ‘borrow’ the donor’s antibodies to fight the virus or bacteria after someone who hasn’t been vaccinated is exposed to one of these viruses or bacteria. Similar products can provide temporary protection for vulnerable people who have been exposed to chicken pox and measles.

Like a lot of overachievers, plasma isn’t flashy about all the things it can do, and once it’s turned into medicine, it’s easy to overlook how many generous donors contributed to all those crucial, lifesaving treatments: it can take up to 18 donations to make one vial of plasma treatment.

Australia needs more plasma donors than ever

As the need for treatments grows, in two years’ time we'll be collecting more plasma than whole blood. This is why we are encouraging Australians to unlock your blood’s full potential, and make an appointment to donate plasma.