Sunday, July 7, 2013

Donating Plasma Before or After Surgery

Q: Can I donate plasma after having shoulder surgery? I ask because the surgical procedure (which fixed the rotary cuff and gave me mobility in my arm again) was also very expensive, with a long painful recovery period. It took me about 3 weeks - 1 month to fully recover without pain, and take the cast off. I was also put under local anesthetic (IV injection, not gas) during the surgery.

My husband, who served as an Army vet, would also like to know if you can donate plasma after extensive surgery. He had an injury on his foot, ankle joints, knees and hands, and also had to undergo surgery to reattach his clavicle bone and fix a shattered elbow. He has to surgery in the future to remove a large cataract on his retina causing Macular degeneration (which is unrelated to his other wounds/surgeries.) He traveled abroad to foreign countries for the Army, most of his surgery and blood transfusions were done in Europe. Can either of us donate plasma since we're both a qualified "medical mess?"

I recall my mother having hip replacement 20 years ago, and carpal tunnel surgery more recently, but she was never rejected from donating blood. Thank you for your reply.

A: First of all, thank you to your husband for serving as an Army Veteran. To answer your question: yes, you can donate plasma after shoulder surgery, depending on how long in the past your surgery was done. If you had a blood transfusion during surgery, you are disqualified from plasma donating for 12 months after the transfusion (due to the risk of blood transmitted viruses and diseases.) If you had surgery over a year ago, you qualify to donate plasma again with no risk. Having local or general anesthetic applied doesn't disqualify you from donating - it only depends if you've had a blood transfusion or loss of blood during surgery.

For your husband, whether or not he can donate plasma  is more complicated. If he had blood transfusions abroad in a foreign country (any parts of Europe - France, the UK, or Germany) or even Africa due to his surgeries, he is disqualified  from donating for life. If he did not have a blood transfusion for any of his extensive surgeries, he may be eligible to donate plasma again.

It doesn't matter whether he donates plasma before cataract surgery - but for health reasons it's recommended to wait for 4 weeks before and after surgical procedures to donate plasma.


  1. I was rejected from donating plasma for life because I had a hip replacement . I think it's dumb but they told me no artificial joints

    1. This is due to the risk to the source plasma, from some forms of medication that are given during this type of surgery, specifically the antibiotics that are given. It also has to do with the potential foreign contamination and potential changes that could occur to your plasma that may make it no longer viable, for example altering your antibody profile to that of an unsuitable profile.

  2. I have been donating plasma for at least 20 years. If I have bariatric surgery does this disqualify me from future donations?


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