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.
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