Requirements to Donate Plasma

By John Landers

The requirements to donate plasma have been put in place to protect every component of the blood donation system--the donor, patient and the many therapies developed from the plasma supplies. In the United States, it is estimated that 15 million plasma donations are made each year. This life-giving material is used to create treatments for all types of hereditary diseases. It typically takes about 130 donations to produce a 12-month supply of treatments for a person suffering from a disease such as primary immunodeficiency.

Considerations

Generally, plasma donors must be in good health. They must be at least 17 years of age; the upper age limit is around 60. The minimum acceptable weight of donors is 110 pounds. A donor's blood pressure reading must be within the acceptable range--generally 160/90 to 110/60. In addition, her body temperature should not exceed 99.5, and her pulse rate must be regular--in the range of 80 to 100 beats per minute. The area of the body where the collection will take place must be free of lesions or scars.

Identification

Another requirement to donate plasma is proper ID. Several forms of identification are acceptable, including a driver's license, state-issued identification card, student ID card, passport, green card or visa.

Time Frame

People can donate plasma as often as twice in a seven-day period, with at least one day between donations. Whole blood donors can donate blood once every 56 days. People who are platelet donors may do so every three days. Platelets are the minute cell fragments that help blood to clot. Donors who give two units of red blood cells, a process that is called "donating double reds," must wait at least 112 days between each donation.

Geography

There are also geographical requirements that must be met before you can donate plasma. For example, individuals who have lived in France five or more years since 1980 are prohibited from donating. Anyone who visited the United Kingdom for at least three months between 1980 and 1996 is not eligible to give blood. In addition, certain military personnel and their dependents who lived on military bases in the United Kingdom also are ineligible. There are many more travel and geography-related requirements pertaining to blood donations.

Significance

The importance of strict adherence to the requirements to donate plasma by hospitals, blood storage operations and blood collection facilities is obvious. The conditions are put into place to protect the overall safety of the blood supply, and the stipulations are intended to safeguard the health and safety of the donors as well. This is accomplished by performing various tests in order to assess the health of the donor. Evaluations are conducted for a number of conditions, including hypertension, low blood pressure and low iron content in the blood.

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