Plasma, but not the hot bright kind

More the warm a squishy kinda, actually.

Yesterday I had my first plasma donation. The blood service is always on the look out for plasma donors, “liquid gold” they call it for all its medical uses. (I also wonder if it is “liquid gold” for the blood service, in that they make very good money selling it to hospitals.)

In whole blood donation it takes 5-10 minutes to suck the 450 ml of blood out, plasma extraction is a longer and more complicated process, and the amount of plasma they take depends on the size of the client. Same size needle goes in the arm as with a normal blood donation, but the tube is then hooked into a machine. This takes you blood and puts it into a centrifuge. The plasma layer is spun off and extracted into a bag, then your red blood cells (with a bit of anti-coagulant) are injected back into your arm. It took 4 cycles and 40 minutes to get my allocated plasma donation out.

The extraction machine is angled so you can see it, and follow the progress. You can also see your flow rate, and pump your fist as necessary to keep the blood flowing at optimal levels.

They also bring you drinks and snacks while you donate! I think they also have free wifi, if you wanted to surf the web while donating.

They were quite excited to have me as a donor. I’m large enough that they can take the maximum volume of plasma in one go (800ml), and as an extra bonus I’ve been vaccinated against all sorts of things recently (due to overseas trips to somewhat “exciting” places). As plasma is often given to immune-compromised people, having a good mix of antibodies in my plasma makes it extra useful.

Where you can only donate whole blood quarterly in NZ, you can donate plasma up to every 2 weeks (it replenishes in 24-48 hours). I have to decide how often I want to donate, apparently monthly is standard practice.