Sunday, November 29, 2015

How to Enlarge Small Veins for Plasma Donation

A larger vein size makes it easier to donate plasma. But your vein size depends on how hydrated you  are, what you've eaten that day, the phlebotomist, how much water you've drunk, your caffeine intake (caffeine can constrict your veins a bit,) and if you've worked out that morning.

If you were born with a weak or narrow vein structure, your veins can suck down around the needle, temporarily blocking blood flow. You might also have trouble donating with small veins, because smaller veins make it extra hard to find a good vein, or to place the needle so that it doesn't slip out.

Most people can still donate blood plasma, even if their veins look too small at first. Here's how to enlarge your veins and arteries for plasma donation:

  1. Heat up your arm. When veins become overheated, they expand, and draw closer to the skin. Using a warm compress on the vein is helpful for bloodflow - though some technicians may be too busy for this. If you can, wrap a heating pad around your arm before donation, or dress in several layers of warm clothing to make your veins bigger.
  2. Hold off on drinking and smoking. Both smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages makes veins and arteries smaller and harder. 24 hours before donating plasma, stop drinking or smoking, and you'll have a much easier donation.
  3. Hold off on the caffeine. Similar to drinking and smoking, caffeine increases your heart rate, but restricts blood vessels, making plasma donation more difficult. Limit your caffeine intake to 1 or 2 beverages total 24 hours before plasma donation.
  4. Drink several glasses of water directly before donating. This is very important, as it lubricates the blood plasma, expanding the veins, and makes plasma donation a much easier and quicker process.
  5. Eat high protein foods the day of donation. Even though you drink fluid, the amount of protein in your blood is what keeps the fluid in the veins (it's called osmotic pressure), so what you drink stays where you need it.
  6. Take daily chestnut supplements. For small, problematic veins, equine chestnut is an herbal extract that is shown in studies to increase vein capacity and decrease irritation.
  7. Do exercise 3 days a week to increase vein depth. Exercise pumps your blood, which enlarges your veins, increases capillary flexibility, and improves overall blood cell circulation. Poor circulation and/or lack of exercise are more common causes of plasma blockages other than depth of the needle.
  8. Lose weight so veins appear "bigger." Weight loss is good for your health in general, and removes fat tissue that can block the visual location of the vein during donation. Your weight and genetics can make it difficult to find a vein for donation - so much so, that the phlebotomist may have no idea where to place needle - in these cases it is quite easy to miss, or to hit the vein at a bad angle, which can cause total vein collapse.
  9. Pump your stress ball. When your pump the ball they give you, you force blood back into the donation vein, plumping it up and making the your arm engorge with blood. If you have a constant need to pump your fist to keep pressuse, then the needle is too deep or your veins and artery can't keep up. 
  10. Ask for a shallow needle insertion. If the needle is inserted too deep, it can restrict blood flow and cause the vein and artery to work harder which can cause fatigue and passing out. Some veins are harder to hit than others, and every phleb has a different "sticking” technique. The vast majority of the time, I get someone half-decent, and they find the vein the first time around.

That should help to plump up your veins and extraction of the blood will be easier.

Finally, if none of the above work, inquire about using an alternative vein location for your donation as it is likely an alternative site will provide better results.

Why Are My Veins Unsuitable for Donation?

Some people, genetically, are born with weaker or smaller veins than others - and some people are born with larger, and more flexible vein tissues. Due to genetics, some people just have poor, weak veins. This only affects the large return veins you can see however - the veins which transport the rest of your blood are likely fine.

Regardless of the vein size, blood can still be drawn. I personally have smaller and weaker veins, and can still donate, but sometimes it takes a few tries. If you can't donate, it's likely that you have a bad phlebotomist, rather than bad veins. Sometimes veins are "rolling," which means they have weak support structure, and move around, so the phlebotomist can stick the needle in at a bad angle.

On a more serious note: don't donate very often, and frequently take breaks, because it can really scar your veins over time and make it look like you have traction.

Collapsed Veins and Other Plasma Donation Complications

Just like when you use needles for other thins (think illegal substances), the plasma needle punctures the vessel, which causes scar tissues to form. This scarring is a serious risk to your health, and over time can also cause iron deficiency. Other complications like bruising, phlebitis (vein inflammation),  and permanent nerve damage from sticking in the needle too far can also rarely occur.

After years of donating plasma, my veins have collapsed twice, causing significant pain. If you have collapsed veins, it might take longer to find veins for donation, especially in people who regularly donate. I suffered no other long term ill effects, however, other than having a small "dimple" of scar on my arm.

During the plasma donation process, it's possible for the needle to pierce through the vein completely. This causes nerve pain, large amounts of bruising, finger numbness, cold sweats, or even blacking out for a period of up to 3 min. They might totally rupture the vein in your arm which can leave a significant bruise that lasts for weeks.

They put the needle in my vein wrong once, and the machine didn't return the blood back to my vein like it was supposed to, it instead returned my blood into my arm's muscle tissue, because the needle somehow slipped and penetrated  the vain.. So the blood failed to return to my vein, it was going into my arm, which caused mild pain, and later, the nastiest bruise you've ever seen.

What Happens During Donation?

A trained phlebotomist puts a sterilized, one-time use needle in your arm vein to extract the blood. Typically they hook up your median-cubital arm vein (not an artery) for blood plasma donation (it's located in the crook of your arm opposite the elbow). They are tiny fragile blood vessels leading just under the skin, as well as larger veins, from which they receive the donations.

While you sit and wait, the needle in your arm will draw your blood into a special spinning machine (a plasmapheresis machine) that separates your plasma from the whole blood, and platelets.

It's practically the same as giving blood, but after the plasma has been separated and removed, they mix saline with the rest of your blood and give it back to you. During this part of the process, you might get a metallic taste in your mouth and feel cold (so bring a sweater!) but it only lasts for a  minute or two.

They also put thinners in the blood to keep it from clotting when it re-enters the vein, so look out for side effects from that.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Can You Donate Plasma With a Blister or Boil?

Q: I just had a pustule decide to crop up on my left arm OUT OF NOWHERE. I'm planning to donate plasma tomorrow. My question is, can I still donate plasma with a blister thing on my arm? It's right on the crook of my elbow, where the needle goes in. Will this affect donation somehow, will the plasma center still accept me, or should I wait for it to heal?

Answer: Talecris plasma center has this to say - "Skin: the venipuncture site should be free of any lesion (boil, blood blister, wart or mole) or scar of needle pricks indicative of addiction to narcotics or frequent Blood donation (as in the case of professional Blood donors)."

Also, the plasma center doesn't know that you're not sick with something contagious - your blister might be filled with pus that can contaminate the plasma, for all they know!
Can I Donate Plasma With a Rash?

Itchy, red bumps. We've all been there. But donating plasma when you have a bad rash? Yes you can, actually! Provided that the rash isn't located where they stick the needle in, of course. In fact, if the rash isn't visible during the time of plasma donation, it's best not to mention it (like rashes on the back, legs, shoulders, upper arms, or buttocks.) It's sort of a don't ask, don't tell policy with rashes - if you don't tell the plasma center you have a rash, they won't care or know, and it won't affect your plasma donation experience.

Just bear in mind - your rash will probably last longer if you donate plasma. your body needs its precious precious plasma fluid to quickly heal cuts, scratches, abrasions, oils, blisters and rashes. in fact, donating plasma frequently can even rob your body of precious vitamin K, which promotes self-healing in skin cells.

Can I donate plasma with a scar on my arm?

That's the question, isn't it? Whether you've got a scar from a sports accident, to frequent plasma donation, or a runaway screen door,  having scars in the plasma donation needle area may seriously affect your future chances of donating.

The reason for this  is because thick scar tissue obfuscates the veins in your arm, making it harder for the phlebotomist to place the needle, and making incidents such as vein collapse or improper needle insertion more likely.

In other words, if you have too much scar tissue build-up in a plasma donation central area, your health is at greater risk by donating plasma. If you still wish to donate, ask the Phlebotomist if the other arm is suitable for plasma donation.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Can O Negative blood types donate plasma?

Q: Does having an O negative blood type affect plasma donation? I've done some research on the subject, and as it turns out, I was nearly turned away from the blood donation center because they didn't want my blood type. They claimed it was too common. Will I have the same problem with O negative blood at the plasma donation center?

Answer: No, you will not be turned away at any plasma donation center that's reputable for having O negative Blood cells. Blood type has no effect on plasma, because plasma lacks the Rh markers that make up red blood cells. Again, plasma is 90% water, and a small amount of protein, none of which has anything to do with blood type.

Can I give and receive plasma from any blood type?

You may have heard that O negative blood type is the universal donor, but rare recipient of blood products. While this may be true for red blood cell donation, plasma and platelet donation are much different.

A person with type A blood can donate blood to a person with type A or type AB. A person with type B blood can donate blood to a person with type B or type AB. A person with type AB blood can donate blood to a person with type AB only.

 Type AB donors are considered the universal plasma donor as their plasma can be given safely to any patient regardless of their blood type. Of course you can always give A blood to persons with blood group A, B blood to a person with blood group B and so on. But in some cases you can receive blood with another type of blood group, or donate blood to a person with another kind of blood group.

In rare cases, people may also have a rare or in some cases even a unique Blood type that would set them apart as a 'special plasma seller.' While all plasma and Blood sales and donations are life-giving and precious, many plasma centers collect plasma from these special kinds of donors.

Rh Immune Response from Plasma Donation

You could give and receive plasma donations from Any blood type, with no negative effects on your health or immune response.

You also don't have to worry about positive Rh contamination,  like Negative Rh mothers do when giving birth. Because the equipment, needles,collection bottle, and filters  are all one time use, and unique to you, there is no need to worry about Blood contamination and immune response. The machines are the only part of the equipment that are reused, and cross-contamination occurs rarely - in less than one in ten thousand plasma donors.

Why should I Sell my Plasma?

Plasma is used To make medication that treats many patients with lowered immune response. This includes burn victims, flu vaccines, special medications for small children, and those suffering from chronic conditions like Lung infections or pneumonia. In other words, your donated plasma help sick people prolong and improve quality of their lives. Not to mention, you get a small monetary compensation for your time and effort spent donating. It's a win-win!

Will the plasma donation center tell me my blood type?

 No, you are unlikely to learn your blood type when donating plasma. Because plasma has no blood type and is "universal" between donors and patients, donor blood type is rarely, if ever, tested. If you want to find out if you have A, B, AB, or O negative blood type, you'll have to donate blood instead of plasma. Bare in mind, if you donate blood, you will be ineligible to donate plasma for six months do to blood loss that needs to be replenished.

Our staff will tell you what your optimum donation is based on your blood type, eligibility and patient needs.

Can You Donate Plasma with Pinkeye or Eye Infection?

Q: I'm sick with the flu, and have a cough, fever, itching / burning eyes, breathing problems, lethargy - you name it, I got it. I feel like my eyes are burning ... like when you have a fever. Can I give plasma in this state?

Answer: Conjunctivitis: Patients with pink eye can make a deposit of blood plasma, if it has been more than 3 months after the initial infection.

If you do donate plasma while sick with eye infection (or other infection), you may experience abdominal pain, you may deplete your body's vitamin K and experience increased bleeding in the donation site. You may also experience: cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, osteoporosis, eye fatigue, respiratory problems, brittle bones and chronic kidney disease.

Donating plasma when you are sick reduces the level of serum immunoglobulins, which may increase the risk of infection. Plasma may be have a green tint to it, in some cases, when a person has an infection (as it contains Pseudomonas, a type of bacteria).

Just inform nurses of their reactions so as to keep an eye on you.

Eye infection spread by Plasma donation

You can also infect other people with conjunctivits in your plasma. The infection is transmitted like the common cold through sneezing or coughing while not covering your mouth. Plasma donation in unsanitary conditions can affect the health  in
various ways which make the body weak and cause  infectious diseases.  

Blood collection after the operation custom greatly increases the risk of infectious diseases through cross-contamination.

Plasma is tested for infectious diseases

Samples of each donation are tested with the antibodies to make sure that none of the blood is infected with anything. When you donate blood products, it is certified to be free from several clinical conditions, including infectious agents, particularly HIV. Screening tests are also performed to check for infection of the donor with Hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1 and 2, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) I and II and syphilis.

What is plasma used for?

Plasma helps in the clotting of blood and plasma collected commonly used in people with liver disease, burns or severe bacterial infections in their blood. Plasma helps blood to clot and blood plasma collected during Plateletpheresis often are given to people with leukemia, the people of chemotherapy and children with severe infections.

Widely used products in plasma include albumin, which is used for the treatment of the fluid in patients with burns or trauma; immunoglobulins, which are used in the treatment or prevention of infection and immune disorders; and clotting factors, which are used in the treatment of hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

Plasma derived protein replacement therapy maintains adequate levels of antibodies and prevents infections in patients with autoimmune deficiency.

Can I Donate Plasma on antibiotics?

If you have an infection and are treated with antibiotics, you may be eligible to donate plasma after completion of antibiotic treatment, the symptoms disappear and the patient feels well.

If you do not have an infection, but are treated with antibiotics prophylactically (to prevent infection), you may be eligible to donate plasma depending on the reason for receiving this type of treatment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Can You Donate Plasma With A Bruise?

Q: Can you give plasma with a bruise? My husband went to go give plasma for the second time today, and the center deferred him for the bruises on his arm before he could even donate (he got them two days ago). I had similar bruises in the past and went in to donate blood as well as blood tests and they never told to wait until the bruises healed.

Answer: You can't donate plasma with a fresh, non-healed bruise on your arm (some nurses might let you get away with it though).

However, you have the right to donate plasma once the bruise has passed the pale yellow stage and is mostly healed  - meaning that most of the blood is gone from the skin. Typically when it fades from purple to green or yellow, bruising will disappear the next day.

 If you have a bruise near where the needle goes into both arms (even your backup arm), you will then be adjourned until the bruise has disappeared. If a bruise happens while you are donating plasma, most centers will stop the donation to keep it from getting worse.

A bruise is the result of blunt force trauma to tissue capillaries, which causes them to crack. They are tiny fragile blood vessels leading just under the skin, as well as larger veins, from which you make your plasma donations. If you donate while you have a bruise, you'll cause more blood to flow to the injured area, prolonging healing times.

 Can Plasma Donation Cause a Bruise?

 I will tell you my story: I once got a bruise on my arm because a plebotomist stuck the needle in my arm wrong. They say it is rare side effect of the plasma donation. But you may also be more likely to develop a bruise if the donation is more difficult than usual. Bruises can happen to anyone.

 Every time I went to donate, however, plasma Telecris left bruises on me. And I'm one that rarely bruises easily - even if I hit something hard. I've been shooting in competitions a long time and never had a bruise even close to those left behind by the plasma donation.

I got a serious injury donating plasma twice, the last being the worse. The plasma center tried to pump the blood back into my arm, but failed to into a vein. Fluid (blood, plasma and anticoagulants) was pumped back into my shoulder outside my veins, and between it and the skin of my arm, causing a giant purple stain. I had a softball-sized bruise on my arm, which lasted about four weeks. Beautiful, isn't it?

They say you should not feel pain or discomfort during a plasma donations - donations only cause a  painful bruise is if you have an inexperienced phlebotemist that pushes the needle in too far, hitting a nerve. The result is pain for the donor and a rather large bruise.

So I started CSL Plasma donations, and he had no pain or bruising since. Now I'll only get a bruise when there is a problem with needle insertion. Once I got a small bruise where the needle was inserted too far, but for the most part, I'm free of bruising and have more disposable income. I tried to pass inspection at CSL yesterday but was postponed for at least two weeks because of an injury to my left shoulder of dropping a ladder on it. Go figure.

If you do have a bruise these tips can help within the first 36 hours of when the bruise appeared:

  • Icing the area is one of the best ways to speed up the healing process of the bruise. This is a great option if the blemish is located on the arm or leg. Always wrap cold compresses in a clean, dry cloth before applying ice to the bruise don't use it for more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • You can also use a warm compress or heating pad and apply to the bruise for 20 minutes 3-5 times a day until the bruise disappears.
  •  Parsley is known to reduce inflammation, pain and duration of the bruise. To successfully follow this suggestion, crush the leaves of parsley in pasty and rub this paste directly on a bruise. Massage bruise for about 20-30 minutes, then rinse herbs.
  • Also, make sure to get plenty of sleep the first night after you get a bruise, to allow your broken capillaries to heal.

The arms being equal, donate with the one will be less annoying to have a huge bruise on, just in case. Other than that it might be better to ask what it is exactly what makes your veins good for donations.

If you're considering donating plasma to help others, or just put some cash in your pocket, go in and talk to the trained nurses on staff first, to get a better idea of what you'll experience while there.

Can You Donate Plasma With Cancer?

Q: I have often wanted to contribute to blood banks and drives, but I had breast cancer five years ago. Does being a cancer survivor prevent me from donating plasma?

Why can't someone who had cancer, even once, donate plasma for people battling potentially life-threatening cancer?

Answer: The type of cancer and treatment history will determine your eligibility to donate. 

After five years in cancer patients whose cancer was successfully treated by surgery and which do not affect blood cancer (e.g., breast cancer survivors of brain, liver, stomach, cervix, testis and lung cancer) may re-transfer plasma. This is because some types of cancer and cancer treatment damage blood cells.

Many cancer patients can give plasma after treatment. Once low risks squamous cell carcinoma or primary cells such as cancer of the skin have been completely removed, you do not have to wait for a period of 12 months.

On its list of eligibility requirement
s to donate blood, the American Red Cross says that people who have been diagnosed with cancer or cancer can donate if they have been successfully treated, and at least 12 months have passed with no recurrence of cancer. These questions are asked to ensure that it is medically safe to donate blood and that the person who receives your blood isn't harmed any way.

Some private practice physicians will let autologous plasma donors to donate who otherwise do not qualify for a donation to the general public.

Can I Donate Plasma While in treatment for cancer?

 Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and keep them from growing. Chemotherapy is another treatment of cancer, which uses the drug to arrest growth of cancer cells by killing or stopping cell division.

Both of these cancer treatments damage to healthy cells of the plasma. The course of cancer treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation or cancer itself can cause temporary postponement.

For example, someone who takes medication for cancer or heart disease will not be accepted as a blood donor. You can donate double red, platelets or plasma cells with automatic donations.

Skin Cancer

You can donate with skin cancer of non-melanoma skin (basal and squamous cell skin cancer), and a tumor that has been eliminated or treatment has been completed more than a week. A person who was properly treated for skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma) and with no recurrence of cancer, can give plasma. The blood component is often necessary in patients with cancer.

For non-melanoma skin cancer or localized cancer that has not spread elsewhere, a person can give blood if the tumor has been removed and the treatment is completed.

Multiple myeloma (Blood Cancer)

 Multiple myeloma (also known as multiple myeloma) is a blood cancer of plasma cells. Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer (10%) after non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 37 is approximately 1% of all tumors and 2% of all cancer deaths.

Since myeloma can have a negative impact on consumers in the plasma donations of cancer cells, people with blood cancer (even effectively treat blood cancer) can not donate.

Blood cancer can affect blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system. 
Leukemia, lymphoma and cancer of the blood cells are an automatic deferral, but the donation is possible in the case of other types of cancer if a person is in full remission with no other treatment regimen.

Breast cancer

Tamoxifen and other drugs used to treat breast cancer are acceptable provided the donor meets all the other criteria. For example, in the case of breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in bone is in fact breast carcinoma cells.  

Thus, patients with breast cancer can give plasma with the proviso that the cancer has not spread to the liver, kidney, stomach, blood, and bone.

Prostate Cancer

 If you have or had in the past 5 years prostate cancer, we will have to ask you to not give blood plasma. Blood plasma may also be refused from cancer patients who have undergone splenectomy or bone grafts, or who have had cancer in the blood production system (e.g., liver cancer).

If you are at risk, it is important not to give plasma. These antibodies can identify substances in cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow.

Can I Spread Cancer by Donating Plasma, even during remission?

The chance of developing cancer from blood donors with cancer is very small, if it exists at all.

The results show that donors whose cancer has not spread and did not require further treatment besides surgery to remove the cancer have little chance of getting the cancer cells into the bloodstream. They found no increased risk of cancer in those who got the blood of those who have been found to cancer shortly after grants.

Other studies have documented a smaller total mortality after diagnosis of blood donors when comparing cancer and the cancer is not a donor population. We also did not find an excess risk when we considered the location and severity of cancer in the donor, or when evaluated site-specific cancer risk from customers.

Additional studies have shown that repeated blood donation was not associated with an increased or decreased risk of cancer overall.

What happens after Donating Plasma

 Donors will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which includes several questions about health and lifestyle in order to determine whether a person is eligible to donate blood based on the requirements. There are also studies done to diagnose any cancer and to find out stage of the cancer may be repeated.

Applications of Plasma

 One whole blood donation can help up to two patients and platelet donation can help 3 patients.Platelets are used to help cancer patients and some patients with blood disorders. Plasma products are used by burns, trauma, and cancer patients.

Platelets assist in blood coagulation and frequently go to cancer patients because, due to chemotherapy, many cancer individuals can not generate a sufficient amount of platelets on their own. The frozen plasma is used to control bleeding and platelet concentrate is used for leukemia and cancer patients and in patients with deficiency of the bone marrow.

How Plasma and Platelet Donations Help Cancer Patients

Plasma is needed in the treatment of burn victims, trauma patients and patients with blood disorders, cancer and liver disease. Cancer patients can require transfusions of platelets or their bone marrow is not producing enough. Cancer treatment often requires red blood cells and platelets.

This type of donation helps many different patients. Some donations are used for transfusion, but because other blood components (red blood cells and platelets) are used more often than plasma, plasma that would otherwise expire is used for medication.

Part of the red cell donation will go to cancer patients undergoing surgery or who become weak and anemic from their cancer treatment program. Part of platelet donation to help cancer patients who have a compromised ability to produce plasma because of their particular cancer or the treatment program. 

For more information about the fight against cancer through Plasma Donations

If a cancer survivor is eligible to donate blood depends on many factors. When it comes to deciding on the best treatment, it all depends on what type of cancer the patient has, and if it is an advanced form and a danger to overall health.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Can You Donate Plasma if You're Anemic?

Q: Can I donate plasma with iron-deficiency anemia? I keep going back to the plasma center, and the nurses keep denying me for having low iron levels in my blood. They said one more deferral and I'd be permanently banned from donating plasma. Thanks.

Answer: No, you can't donate plasma when you have (temporary) iron-deficient anemia. Normal iron levels in blood range between 60 mcg/dL and 170 mcg/dL - you can't be lower or higher than that.

If you have an iron level lower than 60 mcg (which they test for when they prick your finger), you'll be deferred from donating plasma for 1 day. If you continue to have low iron counts, you might have an underlying condition, like a hernia or untreated internal bleeding from an ulcer, so get it treated before you're permanently banned and can't donate plasma.

You can raise your iron levels to donate plasma by:

  • Taking 2 iron tablets in the morning before donating
  • Doing aerobic exercises (which increase red blood cell flow and help iron absorption)
  • Eating broccoli, kale, spinach, watercress, or other leafy vegetables
  • Eating dark purple fruits, like raisins, eggplant, and prunes
  • Eating black beans, or mixing black beans with other foods
  • Getting checked for chronic bleeding conditions

Causes and Symptoms of Iron-Count Anemia

While other forms of anemia, like sickle cell and B12 deficiency exist, iron anemia is the most common blood disorder. It causes symptoms such as:

  • Pale skin
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Stomach cramping

Why Can't I Donate My Plasma?

You can't donate plasma with low iron because iron is needed to create hemoglobin, and bind oxygen to red blood cells. Without this vital oxygen, you may get fatigued, or even pass out while donating blood plasma. If you keep having chronic anemia, go to your doctor to check for internal hemorrhaging or other bleeding disorders.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can you donate plasma if you're under 18 years old?

Q: Can you donate plasma if you're under 18? My brother is 16, and he wants to go with me to the plasma center. Thanks.

A: Generally no, you can't donate plasma if you're under 18 years old. The Food and Drug Administration oversees plasma donations. Their rules are:

  • You must be 18
  • You can't have cold, flu, or respiratory infection when you donate
  • You can't have certain STDs (like HIV, or Hepatitis)
  • You have to be in generally good health
  • You have to weigh 110 pounds or more

There are some exceptions, though, and I'll list them below based on the donation age:

14 And Under

Sorry, you can't donate plasma. Even if you look older, you can't like on the plasma donation test, either, because plasma centers will ask you for and original copy of your SSN and ID card.

Age 14

There's one state that allows plasma donors to donate at age 14 and older - and that's TX. Texas state legislature stated in 2009 that 14 year olds can donate plasma with an accompanying guardian present, and express written permission from the parents or guardian. But you must weigh over 110 pounds - this minimum weight is another rule for donating plasma.

Age 15

You're getting closer! At age 15, you can donate plasma (with permission from their parents of course) in TX, HI, MI, CO, and UT. 

Age 16 

In addition to the above states, minors 16 and older can donate plasma (again, with parental guardian permission) in IL, WY, MT, VI, OH, VT, NC, SC, and RI.

Age 17

Most states (excluding MD, NY, and FL) allow 17 year olds to donate without written permission within 3 months of turning 18 years old. Before age 17 and 3/4, though, you still need your parents to sign your permission slip.

Still, even if you're 17, plasma centers (like CSL) can make their own rules about minors being allowed to donate or not, so call first.

Age 18

Yes, you've finally made it! Since you're not a minor anymore, you can donate plasma freely, right?

But believe it or not, there's one state - Georgia - that won't let you donate plasma until you're 21 years old. The reasons are unclear (perhaps donating plasma is immoral for 18-20 year olds?) But nonetheless, rules are rules. If you live in Georgia, turned 18, and want to donate plasma, consider moving to Alabama or Florida (or really, any other state) that has more sensible plasma donation policies.

Can You Donate Plasma With an STD?

Current FDA regulations state that donors must be in general good health, over 18 years old, and free of blood-borne infections and illnesses to donate plasma. This means that donors can't donate with active cases of STD's like gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, and syphilis.

You can donate plasma with certain other STD's, though. This is what plasma regulations say about the most commonly spread infections:


Symptoms Include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase or appearance of night sweats
  • Increase vulnerability to infection
  • Purple "bags" or bruising under the eyes
  • Extreme unexplained fatigue lasting more than 2 weeks

HIV  is the most serious, terminal STD. HIV antibodies take 6 weeks to form, so you can't donate plasma if you've been in situations that put you risk of contracting AIDS.

You can't donate plasma if you've ever your "services" for money, taken illicit drugs, are a male who has had contact with another male (even once), have visited high risk countries (like parts of Europe and Africa) for more than 3 months, or been in lockup/jail for 72 hours.

Additionally, you must wait for 6 months after getting a tattoo or peircing to donate plasma - no matter how reputable your tattoo joint. If you ever contract AIDS or HIV, you are permanently deferred from donating plasma and blood.

To check your status on the permanent donor deferral list, click here.

Herpes: Yes.

Symptoms Include:

  • Tingling, itching, or burning of the mouth or genitals
  • Appearance of albumin-filled blisters
  • Problems passing urine
  • Symptoms similar to pink-eye (herpes keratitis)

You can donate plasma with a herpes infection. More than 80% of US adults are infected with some strain of the herpes simplex virus. Because the herpes virus lies dormant in skin cell nuclei - not the blood - FDA regulations state that even actively infected herpes patients may donate plasma at no risk to themselves or others.

However, plasma donation robs your body of precious proteins needed to fight infection. So put off plasma donation after your outbreak is finished, or you risk prolonging the infection.

Hepatitis A: Yes, kind of.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease which is transmitted from infected persons or unsafe drinking water. Unlike B and C, hepatitis A is not chronic, and symptoms usually disappear within a month.

You can donate plasma if you had hepatitis A before the age of 11, and were since cured of the disease. The reasoning is that the virus lays dormant in a potential donor's blood for 7 years, after which it dissipates. Since nobody under age 18 can donate plasma, all legal donors 18 and above should be clear of active hepatitis A cases for 7 years.

If you were infected with Hep A at age 12 (seriously, what were you doing??) or older, talk to your local donation center. There are no federal regulations on hepatitis positive plasma donors, so plasma banks make their own sets of rules.

Hepatitis B: Yes, Definitely!

Unlike Hep A, hepatitis B is chronic, meaning it never fully goes away - after about a year, however, patients do stop experiencing symptoms. 

But as far as plasma donation goes, being hepatitis B infected is a good thing! If you have ever been infected with this strain of hepatitis, your may have the minimum number of antibodies in your blood required to make life-saving hepatitis B vaccines.

Here's how it works:
  1. You must have been free of outbreaks for at least 1 year.
  2. You must inform the plasma center that you're hep B positive.
  3. The blood bank or center will test your blood's per/ML level of antibodies.
  4. If you qualify, you will be invited to the elite hepatitis B donor program.
  5. After this, you'll receive anti-B shots each week.
  6. Your blood will be tested monthly, to ensure it still contains the minimum number of required antibodies. 
 So, will I get more money for this? Unfortunately, no. You'll still receive the standard donor's pay. However, the plasma center will get more for your plasma. Normally, plasma centers receive $1,000 or more for each bottle of plasma turned into medicine. Hep B vaccine plasma, however, can fetch more than $4,000 per bottle.

You will get the satisfaction of saving lives by creating a necessary vaccine though. And in the end, isn't that enough?

Hepatitis C: No.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • All-over itchiness
  • Swollen stomach
  • Brown or dark colored urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Trouble passing urine

It is spread through contact with bodily fluids, via sharing needles, or in babies, drinking infected breast milk.

Unlike the virus strains HAV and HBV, HCV (hepatitis C) is directly fatal. It kills up to 30% of infected patients through complications like cirrhosis or hepatitis induced liver cancer.

Also, unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine. Because of the fatal, highly infection nature of hepatitis C, and the lack of a vaccine, HepC STD patients can't legally donate plasma.

Cold Sore: Yes.

You can donate plasma with a cold sore on your lip - as long as you're treating it with visible white herpes simplex cream, or the sore has already crusted or dried over.

Why can't you donate with an active cold sore infection? Cross-contamination. With an active cold sore, there's a chance (however small) that you or a nurse might come in contact with your lip, then touch the donor site.

This would contaminate the plasma supply, and risk infection of the plasma recipients.

In other words: just stay home with your active cold sore, and you can donate plasma in 1-2 days or a week when it clears up.

Gonorrhea and Syphillis: Yes.  

Plasma centers don't test your blood for these STD's during the screening (like they do with HIV, and hepatitis B and C) - you're on the honor system to tell them.

So if you know you have the clap, please don't go and infect innocent people getting plasma therapy.

You can donate plasma once your syphilis has been successfully treated with bacterial antibiotics, however, and 12 months has passed since your infection.

Chlamydia: Yes.

Symptoms of this STD include:

  • Burning or discolored urine
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Yellowish-green discharge (in both men and women)
  • Sharp lower abdominal pain
  • Stomach tenderness and queasiness
  • Sudden male testicle pain

You cannot donate plasma with an active case of chlamydia. But you can donate if you've been treated for the disease with a 7 day course of oral antibiotics (like penicillin or amoxicillin), and have been clear of flare ups for 60 days. 

The 60 day waiting period is required by ZLB plasma. But check with your local center, because some places, like CSL plasma, require donors to be free of transmitted infections for at least 6 months.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (Endometritis): Yes.

Symptoms Include: 

  • Dull abdominal pain (mild cases)
  • Inflammation (confirmed through ultrasound) of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or uterus
  • General sense of unease
  • Yellowish or burning discharge
  • Infertility (extreme cases)

Pelvic inflammatory disease isn't an STD itself. It's caused by bacteria entering the cervix from untreated cases of other STD's, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. It can also last chronically, long after the bacterial STD's are cured.

Because PID isn't a blood-borne virus, women with pelvic inflammatory disease are allowed to donate plasma with no restrictions. However, plasma donation causes dehydration, which makes abdominal cramping worse, so if you're suffering from PID, drink plenty of water before you do donate.

Genital Warts: Yes.

Gential warts are caused by untreated strains of HPV. They can appear on the nether regions, hands, feet, or even lead to facial warts. Because the strain of HPV that causes warts is spread by skin-skin contact (not through blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids) people with this common STD can donate plasma.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Yes.

HPV infects over 90% of intimately active adults. It causes symptoms such as genital or facial warts, abnormal cervical growths, and cancer. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get a Human Papillomavirus vaccine before becoming active.

What if you're already infected? Can you donate plasma? Yes, you can donate plasma. HPV is a skin-central retrovirus, and doesn't travel through the blood. Therefore, HPV patients are welcome to donate blood or plasma at any time.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What Is Blood Plasma Used For?

Plasma is part of your blood. It is easy for your body to replace as it is made up mostly of water and proteins. Plasma cannot be made in a lab. That is why it is so important for plasma donation centers to collect plasma.

Your plasma donation provides immunity from disease to individuals fighting these life threatening illnesses:

  • Cancer patients
  • transplant patients
  • premature infants
  • and those with autoimmune disease 

These are some examples of individuals who have lost their own natural immunity making abilities and rely on plasma donations for the life saving medications needed to survive capabilities as part of the disease process.

Plasma donation centers collect plasma for patients with certain diseases such as hemophilia and other inherited bleeding disorders. Hospitals also make products from plasma to treat traumatic injuries like shock and serious burns.

How Potential Donors are Screened

Plasma from  first-time donors is not used in the production of plasma therapies. Potential plasma donors must provide proper identification, including Social Security number and a valid address. Your personal data is verified through the national donor deferral registry database that tracks donor eligibility based on previous blood test results.

Donors undergo detailed screening process every time you donate. This includes a health history and a medical assessment. First-time donors are also required to have a comprehensive physical exam, which must be repeated annually if they continue to donate. All of these precautionary steps are closely tracked by the donor management computer system. If any of the screening criteria or not met that person is not allowed to donate that day.

The Plasma Collection Process

Plasma is collected from donor blood using a technique called plasmapheresis, which separates plasma from red blood cells. Plasma is extracted and the red blood cells are returned to the donor. Because our bodies replenish plasma quickly, donors are permitted to plasma twice in any Sunday.

To recognize their commitment donors are compensated for their time. Our trained staff closely monitors the entire process, which typically takes one and a half to two hours.

To further validate the quality and safety of the plasma, samples from every donation is tested in one of our state-of-the-art laboratories in our Indefinite plasma products are safer today than ever before. But they still carry a risk of transmitting infectious agents. Thanks to our highly regulated processes and cutting-edge technology, our standards for plasma quality and safety minimize this risk.

Our highly controlled webs perform a minimum of eight distinct tests on each donation. Any positive test results in the donors plasma being destroyed and the individuals permanently barred from donating again, at any Center nationwide.

The Plasma Manufacturing Process Explained

Once the plasma has cleared all testing procedures. It is held in a climate controlled warehouse of -30°F for a minimum of 60 days. This additional step allows time for any follow-up information about donor to reconsider before proceeding with the manufacturing process.

Plasma is turned into medicine in one of our first three high-tech production facilities in Barcelona, Spain, Los Angeles, California and Clayton, North Carolina. It is here where plasma is processed into a wide array of life-saving therapies.

The process of transforming plasma into medicine is highly controlled and regulated by the FDA and European health authorities.

First specific proteins are separated from the plasma using a multi-phased fractionation process different proteins.

Then it undergoes a series of purification steps using a combination of treatment solvents and filtration methods. Potential viruses are activated and eliminated, and the final medicine is currently sold in bottles which are laser etched with a unique lot number that also appears on the product label and packaging.

The entire process from plasma collection through manufacturing can take up to 12 months. We use a proprietary system called pedigree, which is an additional quality measure. Pedigree provides full traceability of the plasma used our products from the point of donation to the final product.

Our secure website healthcare providers worldwide can easily identify each individual plasma donation that contributed to a specific product world used to treat a patient. With innovative technology highly trained employees cutting edge research and development, a sharp focus on the quality and safety of our therapy for more than 70 years.

This has been our commitment and today our global team continues its dedication to meet the growing demand for plasma therapy and to honor the core values of the founders or defined our mission to improve the health and well-being of people around the world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Serious Health Complications Can Occur from Donating Plasma?

When donating plasma, you are taking many risks with your health. Collection center websites will not tell you that donating carries very serious complications and health risks, though the information can be found in the forms you must read and sign at each yearly physical exam.

Major risk #1: An anticoagulant solution is added to the blood products being returned to the donor. This usually causes an unusual taste in the mouth, but severe allergic reactions can occur as well.

Major risk #2:  Although rare, frequent long-term plasma donation can cause the protein level in the blood to be lowered permanently. This will cause a donor to be permanently deferred from donating plasma.

And major health risk #3: Another extremely rare complication is hemoglobin in the urine. According to one of the forms a person must sign, this happens if the red blood cells rupture when being returned to the donor. This usually clears up on its own within a week, and the form states it is not harmful to the plasma donor.

I Wound Up With Hemoglobic Urine, and a Permanent Deferral
Although I donated plasma very rarely, I experienced hemoglobin in the urine after donating plasma. After finding a large pink stain on the bathroom tissue several days in a row, I went to see my doctor. Testing discovered the presence of hemoglobin with no kidney problems detected. My doctor determined that plasmapheresis was the probable explanation.

Being the honest person that I am, and concerned about my health, I informed Biolife of the problem. It was time for my yearly exam anyway. Although I received a clean bill of health, along with additional documents provided to Biolife from my doctor, I was permanently deferred from donating plasma because of the hemoglobin in my urine.

The Biolife staff never did explain why an extremely rare occurrence would cause permanent deferral. I believe it's best, because I value my health, and wouldn't want it to happen again.

More common Side Effects of Plasma Donation

Although plasmapheresis is generally a safe process, one should be aware of the risks involved when donating plasma. The preceding were some risks to be aware of, and my personal (unpleasant) experience with donating plasma.

Besides the complications that could occur with any type of blood donation, there are specific health risks to donating plasma, though these are very rare. More common side effects would include bruising or infection around the puncture site where the needle was inserted.

If you are considering donating plasma, get all the information you can about plasmapheresis. Plasma donation is safe for the most part if you meet the eligibility guidelines and follow the health and nutrition tips given by the collection facility. Just be aware that although rare, there are risks of donating plasma.
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