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
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
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.