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Red Cross » Blood Plasma and Plasma Apheresis

     Excessive bleeding calls for plasma. When doctors treat trauma patients and perform transplants, no advance in technology can replace the critical clotting and immune factors found in voluntarily donated human plasma. And, in an emergency, when patients canít wait, their doctors call on plasma donors.

What is Plasma Apheresis?

     Today, sophisticated medical equipment - blood cell separators - can collect plasma for transfusion from a single donor, returning the rest of your blood components back to you during the donation process. Providing plasma from a single donor allows us to provide more plasma to help save more lives. It is a simple, safe process - very much like regular blood donation.

Is it safe?

     During a plasma apheresis donation, blood is drawn from one arm and passed through a seperating machine which collects the plasma and returns the remaining blood components to the donor back through the same arm. The blood is passed through a sterile, disposable kit that is used once and discarded.

Why Is Plasma Needed?

     Blood is made of four components: platelets, plasma, red blood cells and white blood cells. The plasma component serves a variety of functions, from maintaining blood pressure to supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. Plasma transfusion is most often used to control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors.

What's Involved?

     By using a special method called apheresis (ay-fer-ee-sis), whole blood is separated into components, and the plasma is removed. Specially trained Red Cross staff conduct the procedure while you relax, watch TV or read. The entire process takes about 15-20 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and your body's platelets are replenished in just 48 hours.

Who Can Donate?

     You can continue to give whole blood in addition to plasma. And, just like whole blood donation, donating plasma is safe. In accordance with our commitment to insure the highest level of safety, all needles and containers are sterile, used only once, and then carefully discarded.

How Often Can I Donate Plasma?

     Because plasma is quickly replenished by your body, you can donate plasma as frequently as every 48 hours, but no more than 12 times a year. Additional restrictions vary, however, depending on the center, type of procedure used, and your donation history.

How Do I Get Started Donating Plasma?

     Simply call 1-800 GIVELIFE to schedule a plasma apheresis donation. A Red Cross representative will help you schedule a convenient donation appointment. On behalf of the patients whose lives you will save, we thank you.

     If you are local to the Connecticut Region, you can contact Judy Hughes at American Red Cross Blood Services (203) 678-2749. They are located at 209 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06032.

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