Helping others in need is one reason why humans are so great. Donating blood or plasma may seem intimidating, but it’s a fantastic way to contribute to your community.
So, what is plasma? Why do people need plasma transfusions? Here’s a guide on donating plasma and what you need to know beforehand.
What Is Plasma?
Blood is integral to your life. It carries oxygen throughout your body, and fights infections and diseases. The liquid tissue constitutes 8%–10% of your body weight, so it may be heavier than you think. Imagine a 200-pound man — approximately 20 pounds of him is blood.
Blood may seem simple, but there are four primary parts to divide it — white and red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Your blood carries antibodies to fight diseases by relying on plasma, the largest part of your blood. Plasma constitutes about 55% of your blood or around 5% of your body weight.
Plasma is necessary for your body. Many people worldwide need plasma for specific therapies and medications to treat diseases. You may also need plasma if you’re a burn victim or a trauma patient. Red Cross estimates show American patients need about 5,000 units of platelets daily to satisfy the demand.
Is Donating Plasma Risky?
Rest assured that donating plasma is safe. The process is similar to donating blood and is reliable if you find a certified location. Health care professionals will walk you through the donation and ensure your safety.
Donating blood or plasma can be scary for first-timers or those with anxiety. Trypanophobia — the fear of needles — is more common than you think. The Cleveland Clinic says about 10% of adults fear needles and about 16% avoid vaccines because of needles.
Why Is Plasma Donation Important?
Plasma donations are necessary for many reasons. When you give your plasma, you’re often saving someone else’s life. Doctors use plasma to treat patients in particular scenarios, such as:
- COVID-19 – The recent pandemic left health experts scrambling to find treatments. Scientists discovered convalescent plasma as an effective remedy for viral illnesses. Research shows plasma provides your body with antibodies to fight pathogens and prevent their spreading.
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy can cause issues in the nine months. Plasma treats Rh sensitization — the mixing of two blood types — and protects pregnancies by preventing brain damage and death.
- Tetanus – Cuts and wounds can lead to tetanus infections if you’re not careful. Many doctors use plasma treatment in severe cases. Donation centers can use your plasma to save lives if you have an updated tetanus shot.
Can You Earn Money By Donating Plasma?
Donation centers often pay plasma donors, but the amount varies by location and demand. The typical donation pays between $30 and $100 per appointment. Health experts recommend a limit of two plasma donations in seven days because your body needs to recuperate.
How Can You Prepare For A Plasma Donation?
Plasma donations are worthwhile because you can save someone’s life in a few hours. Before you donate, there are a few things you should do to prepare. Use these five tips to prepare for your plasma donation.
1. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Preparing for your plasma donation starts the night before. Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment. Donating plasma makes people tired and groggy, so you’ll want to ensure a fresh start to the day. If you have trouble sleeping, use natural remedies like hemp extracts and melatonin to fall and stay asleep.
2. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is vital, no matter what you’re doing during the day. Drink at least two glasses of water before your appointment to ensure hydration. Hydrated bodies help the nurses find your veins and your blood flow easier. Over 90% of plasma is water, so you’ll need plenty before donating.
3. Eat Healthy Foods
You’ll also need to eat before heading to your plasma donation. Your meal should consist of foods high in protein and iron. Your body needs iron to ensure your blood cell count is sufficient despite the blood you donated.
Keeping your protein levels high is critical because donating plasma means donating essential proteins. Make a protein-packed breakfast burrito with eggs and lean meat. Vegan options for high protein include lentils, chickpeas, lentils and more.
4. Bring Entertainment
Donating plasma can take a while. The Department of Health and Human Services says the process can take an hour, depending on your plasma’s flow. Expect to be at the donation center for around two hours on your first visit, but the time may differ if many people donate with you. Bring entertainment to distract yourself — pass the time with a book, podcast, music or something else to occupy your time.
5. Take It Easy Afterward
Feeling tired after a blood or plasma donation is typical. Losing these essential nutrients can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy. After your donation, you should take it easy and rest. Ideally, you’ll donate plasma when you have a day free from work, school or other obligations.
After donating, continue to eat protein and iron-rich foods to aid your recovery. Your body is trying to replace the lost plasma, so refrain from rigorous exercise like weightlifting for at least 24 hours.
Donating Plasma For A Good Cause
Completing the donation process shows bravery and selflessness. By donating plasma, you save lives and significantly impact your community. Follow these five tips before donating and remember it’s completely safe if you find a certified donation center.