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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