Give life with blood and plasma | News, Sports, Jobs

METRO – Financial donations and volunteering are popular ways to give back to nonprofit organizations. However, there are many more ways to give back, including donations that can help save lives.

Blood donation can be a worthwhile effort for someone who wants to make a difference. The US Department of Health and Human Services says that every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood or blood products. When people think of donating blood products, they might think of donating whole blood. However, other components are needed, namely plasma. Here’s a closer look at what’s involved in the blood and plasma donation process.

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Whole blood donation involves donating all four blood components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Whole blood is used to treat blood loss that occurs during an injury or surgery.

Patients in need of plasma may have cancer, immunodeficiency, or rare diseases that may benefit from plasma treatment. Additionally, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation, there is a global demand for plasma-derived drugs such as immunoglobulin. A patient requiring Ig for a year will require 130 to 1,200 plasma donations to obtain enough plasma.

Plasma is separated from whole blood and there is not enough plasma in the whole blood supply to meet the need for whole blood and plasma separately.


Donors must meet some eligibility requirements, according to the American Red Cross.

Blood: Blood can be donated once every 56 days. Individuals must be in good health, be at least 16 years old in most areas, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Plasma: All blood types can provide plasma, but only the AB plasma type is universal. People with AB blood are considered elite plasma donors. Plasma can be donated once every 28 days. Good health is required and donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh no less than 110 pounds.

Donors can also donate red blood cells and platelets separately from whole blood or plasma. Different eligibility requirements apply to these blood components.

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According to HHS, a whole blood donation takes about 60 minutes. Waiting times for plasma donations may vary. An initial donation can take around two hours, while subsequent donations can take 90 minutes.


Aside from the satisfaction of helping others, donating blood can help save the lives of up to three people. Because plasma donation is so important and there is a greater time commitment to donate, some plasma donors are compensated financially.


Individuals interested in donating blood products are urged to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The American Red Cross recommends drinking nine to 13 cups of water 24 hours before the appointment, plus an additional two cups before donating. Meals rich in iron and protein are essential; caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and fatty foods should be avoided.

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