Health & Fitness

How Often Can You Donate Plasma? A Guide For Donors!

Plasma donation is the process where the liquid portion of the donor’s blood is separated from the cells. The drawn blood will be sent to ...

by Kendra Reed

How Often Can You Donate Plasma? A Guide For Donors!

Plasma donation is the process where the liquid portion of the donor’s blood is separated from the cells. The drawn blood will be sent to a high-tech machine that collects plasma and then returns the donor’s blood cells and platelets along with some saline.

Since plasma plays a major role in delivering nutrients, proteins, and hormones to the parts of the body that need them, it is vital for the body, and in maintaining our immune system responses. Plasma donation helps improve a patient’s blood volume, which can help with blood clotting and prevent shock. Plasma is commonly donated to patients who have undergone trauma, blood clotting, burn, shock, or severe liver diseases. 

Plasma is important in medical treatments and therapies as it helps treat and prevent severe or life-threatening illness complications. It helps provide antibodies that the immune system cannot make or can’t make fast enough. Plasma treatments are used to restore healthy proteins and treat people with clotting, bleeding, autoimmune, genetic, lung, or other conditions.

It helps maintain blood volume and normal blood pressure levels and prevent shock. Since donating plasma can help patients treat various conditions, there remains a question, how often can you donate plasma? Well, plasma can be donated more than blood, because the recovery time is shorter. Often, plasma is donated up to 6 times yearly, but you can also donate it every 2 weeks. 

Understanding plasma donation

The plasma is the largest part of the blood and it is a light yellow fluid. It carries water, enzymes, and salts; plasma’s main role is to transport nutrients, proteins, and hormones to needy body parts. The plasma helps remove waste from the body and helps improve immunity, balance blood pressure, and maintain a healthy pH level in the body.

Understanding plasma donation

In simple terms, plasma helps keep one healthy. It is a critical part of the treatment for serious health problems, which is why it is important to donate plasma if you can. As for the plasma donation process, you will go through a screening process to ensure the donor’s blood is healthy and safe.

During the donation process, your blood will be drawn through a needle placed in a vein in one arm, and a high-tech machine works to separate the plasma and platelets from the blood sample. This process is called plasma exchange or plasmapheresis. Then, once the separation process is complete, the remaining red blood cells and other blood components will be returned to the donor’s body along with a little saline solution. 

Both plasma donation and plasma donation are similar. So, what makes it different? In a normal blood donation process, all four blood components- red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and plasma are used to treat blood loss or in surgery. However, in plasma donation, only one component of whole blood is collected and the other three components are returned to the donor. 

Eligibility criteria for plasma donation

To determine if you are eligible for plasma donation, you will need to visit the plasma collection center. The first eligibility criteria for plasma donation is that the donor should be at least 18 years old and should weigh at least 110 pounds or 50 kilograms.

One should be in good health and disease-free to donate plasma and you will have to go through a medical screening to ensure that. Also, you should test negative for viruses that can be passed through blood, like hepatitis or HIV. 

Plasma donation frequency

One can donate plasma up to 6 times on an annual basis. Also, you can donate every 2 weeks if you wish. A minimum interval of two weeks should be observed between the donations and the donations should not exceed more than 26 times in a year.

All blood types can donate plasma and regular plasma donation helps the body in various ways. It helps maintain blood pressure, prevent heart disease, stroke, and heart attack, reduce the risk of clotting, and more.  

Factors affecting how often you can donate

A lot of factors impact the eligibility of donating plasma,  given the implications for both the donor’s and recipient’s health. The factors that disqualify you as a plasma donor include;

  • Those aged under 18 or those over 74. 
  • Low weight.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding, as it may affect the blood volume and plasma composition. 
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Recent piercings or tattoos within the last 4 months, as it heightens the risk of infections.
  • Certain medical conditions or medications. The conditions that affect the immune system, such as cancer, AIDS, HIV, or hepatitis. 
  • Recent travel to certain countries. 
  • Common illnesses like cold and flu temporarily deprive one of donating plasma. 

Health implications of frequent plasma donation

Plasma donations are good for health. However, frequent plasma donation can result in a drop in immunoglobulin levels over time, and the donors may find it hard to fight off infections. It can also cause minor side effects, like dizziness, bleeding, inflammation around the donation site, or bruising. Also, frequent donations can negatively affect the quality of the plasma. 

Benefits of plasma donation

Plasma donation is not only beneficial for the recipient but also has a positive effect on the donor’s body, health, and overall wellness. Some of its benefits include;

  • Donating plasma helps prevent heart attack, heart disease, stroke, blood clotting, bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and allergies. 
  • It helps the body prevent blood clotting and stops excessive bleeding from occurring. Donating plasma renews the circulatory system, as it allows the body to create a fresh supply of blood. 
  • Once the blood is drawn, it is tested for infectious illnesses such as HIV, AIDS, or cancer. This offers an opportunity for a mini-checkup. 
  • Donating can boost mood, as it improves our emotional well-being. It helps one feel positive by helping those in need. Often donors find it satisfying and meaningful to donate plasma as it helps save lives. 
  • It also helps financially. Plasma donors get a compensatory fee for each donation.

Is plasma donation safe?

Plasma donation is safe for healthy adults only. There are no risks of contracting diseases, as new, sterile equipment is used for each donor. After donation, some people get minor side effects, such as feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded. It usually lasts only a few minutes. It is better to rest and lay down until you feel better. Some might experience bleeding at the site of the needle.

Applying pressure and raising the arm for some time helps stop the bleeding. However, reach out to the donation center if the dizziness or nausea continues even after drinking, eating, or resting, if you develop a bump and continue bleeding at the needle site, or have pain or numbness in the arm. 

Donating plasma does not cause any side effects but some donors might experience fatigue, bruising, or dehydration. These are normal but if you feel that the condition is getting worse, seek medical help. Some precautions to take after plasma donation include keeping on the bandage for at least 4 hours, drinking plenty of fluids in the next two days, avoiding excess alcohol intake, and refraining from heavy lifting and dangerous activities.

Legal and ethical considerations

Plasma donors get a compensatory fee every time they donate the plasma. The payment is mainly based on the amount of time it takes to donate the plasma. This is because the amount the plasma a person can donate depends on their health and body weight, the heavier the donor is, the more plasma is collected. When more plasma is collected, the extraction process will be longer. The payment may differ according to the plasma collection center. 

It is possible to make $30 to $70 each time you donate plasma. The amount you can make depends on the plasma center, how often the plasma is collected, and the compensation or incentives offered. As to legal regulations governing plasma donation, any donor from the age of 18 to 74 is eligible to donate plasma. They should be healthy, have average weight, and be disease-free. 

Conclusion

Plasma plays an important role in our lives. Also, is important to donate plasma as it helps treat and prevent severe and life-threatening medical complications. Plasma donation helps prevent heart diseases, stroke, and heart attacks, normalizes blood pressure, prevents allergies, lowers the risk of blood clots, and more. However, there are a lot of factors to consider before donating the plasma. One should be healthy, above 18, weigh at least 110 pounds, and disease-free.

Also, those who are breastfeeding, pregnant, had tattoos or piercings within the last 4 months, have alcohol abuse, or are under medications are not eligible for plasma donation. One can donate once every two weeks and frequent donation may have adverse effects on the body. Try maintaining a healthy lifestyle and food habits before going for a donation. If you are a person, who is healthy and eligible to donate plasma, do consider it, as it helps save a lot of lives. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it really safe to donate plasma twice a week?

A minimum interval of two weeks should be observed between each donation. It may be safe to donate twice a week but more frequent donations might have adverse effects on health. The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) imposes a mandatory 7-day gap between each donation. 

2. Is it okay to donate plasma every month?

It is safe to donate plasma every month. The studies show that one can donate up to 6 times on a yearly basis or once every two weeks. 

3. Who pays the most for plasma?

BioLife Plasma Services is one of the top payers in the plasma donation industry. The BioLife Plasma Services pay around $29 for the first visit and around $30 to $50 for subsequent donations. 

4. What happens if you donate plasma three times a week?

If you donate plasma three times a week or more frequently, it may cause the immunoglobulin levels to drop over time, making it difficult for your body to fight off infections. 

5. Do you really burn calories by donating plasma?

Yes. The body burns around 500 calories from a plasma donation, as the body uses energy to replace the donation. In simpler terms, the body burns calories to recharge the lost plasma. 

Author

  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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