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How does blood plasma donation work?

Plasma donation works differently from blood donation. When you give blood plasma, your blood is separated into blood cells and blood plasma. Your blood cells are returned to your body.

Plasma donation has four steps

  1. A vein is cannulated in one arm. Your blood is collected in a machine using a sterile, disposable system.
  2. This machine separates the blood into cells and plasma.
  3. The plasma is collected and stored.
  4. The blood cells are returned to your body via the system.

The procedure for collecting and returning (except for the venous cannulation, of course) is repeated a few times during a plasma donation session. This way, we collect slightly over half litre of plasma.

The differences with blood donation

  • Plasma donation is less of a burden to the body.
  • Plasma donation takes a little longer than blood donation, about 45 minutes.
  • You can donate plasma more often than you donate blood: every 14 days, no more than 26 times per year.
  • Plasma donations are done by appointment. You usually do not need to wait.
  • Because a machine is reserved for every donor, it is important that you show up on time and cancel if you cannot make it.
  • You can make a new appointment immediately after donating. Plasma donors are mailed a confirmation card for the appointment.

Complications are rare

Complications during plasma donation are rare. Your blood does not come into contact with the machine during donation. It is impossible for it to come into contact with the blood of another donor.

In order to prevent your blood from clotting during plasma donation, a substance is added. This substance is harmless, and is broken down by your body. You may occasionally feel tingling near your mouth or slight cramps in your hands because of it. A donation assistant can quickly resolve this by setting the machine a little slower.

The risk of bruising near the cannulation site is slightly greater for plasma donation than for blood donation because the blood cells are returned.

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