Disadvantages to Donating Plasma

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Many people donate plasma in an attempt to help others and even as a way to earn extra money, as many plasma donation centers pay for donations. Hospitals and other medical centers need plasma, which is a clear liquid that is separated from a blood donation, to treat a variety of conditions, from genetic diseases to burns and shock. While a person who donates plasma often has no adverse effects, it can result in a few disadvantages that a person considering donation should weigh.


One of the most obvious disadvantages to donating plasma is pain. You should expect some stinging and pressure where the needle is inserted into your arm. When you are donating direct plasma, the needle stays inside your arm longer than when you are simply donating blood. That's because after the technician removes the blood from your body, he separates plasma and returns the remaining blood to you. As a result, your arm may be sore after you donate, and you may have a bruise at the site of the needle for a few days.

Adverse Physical Reactions

Donating plasma can also have other adverse physical reactions. For example, if you have a dislike of needles or blood, you may become nervous, sweaty, pale and dizzy when you see the needle go in your vein or someone else's vein. Some people who have extreme discomfort in the presence of blood could lose consciousness, but that is extremely rare.

Calcium Loss

Sometimes, plasma donation centers use an anti-coagulant when they take a plasma donation. That can result in a loss of calcium in the blood. When the calcium ions in your blood become too low, you may start to feel cold, have tingling in your fingers and feel light-headed or nauseous. This is less likely if you have eaten within a couple hours of giving plasma. You can quickly alleviate it by eating a cookie or drinking a cup of orange juice.

Time Commitment

Donating plasma can be a lengthy endeavor, especially your first time. At many centers, you will have to undergo a complete physical and blood work to make sure that you are healthy enough to donate and that your plasma will be useful. You often have to fill out a long questionnaire as well, with questions about your general health, where you have traveled, sexual history and other questions. The donation itself also can take quite a while, up to an hour.