Plasma and Platelet Donations

The number of plasma and platelet donors needed has been increasing every year due to the increasing demand of blood products made from plasma, and the fact that platelets only last 5 days.

Plasma and Platelet donations can be made at the following Donor Centres:

How is this different from giving whole blood?

Giving plasma or platelets is an automated process where instead of donating whole blood, the donor gives only a certain part or component, usually platelets or plasma. The donor's blood is collected, the red blood cells and plasma or platelets are separated and then the red blood cells are returned to the donor using a process called "apheresis".

Apheresis (pronounced ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special type of blood donation and comes from the Greek word meaning, "to take away" or "to separate". Donating plasma is a procedure called plasmapheresis, while donating platelets is called plateletpheresis.

The process

Apheresis machine used to collect plasma and platelets (5)

Apheresis donations are much the same as whole blood donations. The blood is taken from one arm and channelled through a sterile, disposable kit housed in a special machine - a cell separator.

The separator automatically removes the required components from the donor's blood using a centrifuge and returns the rest to the donor using the same needle.

As blood is drawn during an apheresis donation, a substance called citrate is added to the blood to prevent clotting while the blood is outside the body. Some of the citrate is returned to the donor and may cause tingling around the mouth or coldness during the donation. These are temporary conditions only, and the citrate is broken down very quickly in the bloodstream.

All tubing, bags and needles used in the process are new, sterile and used only once. After use, they are destroyed.

Are there any side effects?

This can vary for each donor but some donors may feel cold during their donation (blankets can be provided!), or feel a tingly sensation in their lips or hands.

As your red cells are returned to you using the apheresis machine, you most likely won't feel as tired after giving these donations (although this varies for each individual).

How frequently can I donate?

Donating by apheresis provides large quantities of plasma and/or platelets, and because these donors are not giving red blood cells they can donate more frequently, you can donate every two to three weeks  (rather than every 3 months)

How long does the process take?

Plasmapheresis takes about 60 minutes on the donation bed, while plateletpheresis can take about 100 minutes.

These times are in addition to the usual process of filling out a Donor Questionnaire Form, Confidential Interview with a nurse and the 5-10 minutes to recover post-donation.

Find out more about plasma donations including if you are eligible.

Find out more about platelet donations including if you are eligible.

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