Plasma is the yellowish liquid portion of your blood. It contains enzymes, antibodies, and other proteins. It makes up about 55% of your blood.
Source plasma is taken from donors and is used to make different kinds of medicines. These medicines are used to treat many different things – check out our infographic below for some examples. When donating, a machine separates the plasma from the rest of the blood. The plasma goes into a collection bag, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor mixed with a salt water solution to keep the donor hydrated. The body makes more plasma quickly, so it’s possible to donate weekly!
Canadian Blood Services’ website has more info on plasma.
If you’re looking further into the technical side of donation, you may come across some of these terms:
Source plasma: Plasma that is taken from a donor that will be used to make medicines, like immunoglobulin.
Fractionation: Processing plasma and separating it into different parts, including plasma proteins. This processing involves adjusting pH levels, temperature, and alcohol to extract the different proteins.
Plasmapheresis: Separating plasma from the rest of blood. Blood is drawn, a machine separates the plasma from other parts of the blood. Leftover parts of the blood are returned to the donor in a salt water solution.
A lot of people depend on the products, and the demand just keeps growing. Check out all the uses:
Below is a video produced by Canadian Blood Services to explain what plasma is and how it is processed to create life-saving medications.
This is Cayleigh – she needs plasma to live.
Thousands of Canadians depend on medications made from plasma proteins to survive. If you choose to donate plasma, you will be saving lives. Plasma protein products are especially useful for people living with immune disorders, burns, and bleeding disorders.
Check out these stories of plasma product recipients:
Read here for more stories of people that plasma has helped: The incredible story of how plasma donations help patients.
Another perk of plasma donation is that you can donate more often than you can donate blood. You can donate every six days, but even a monthly donation can go a long way!
Most Canadians are aware of the need for blood donation. Plasma donation is also extremely important. The need for plasma products is increasing. Canada currently only collects about 13% of the plasma needed by Canadians who rely on plasma products. The rest is purchased from the United States, which supplies the rest of the world. Increasing domestic plasma collection is a critical public health issue.