Like other forms of blood donation, a plasma donation can prove lifesaving to others. Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. It contains many important proteins that help fight infections and enable the blood to clot. But before heading to a local donation facility, there are some eligibility rules to consider. Age, weight and general health requirements must be met for your safety. You will also be asked about your medical conditions, medications, recent activities and the date of your last donation to determine your eligibility.
Weight and Age
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the collection of blood and its components -- including plasma. General requirements for plasma donation are similar to those for other types of blood donations. Your size determines the amount of blood in your body, so you must weigh at least 110 pounds to safely donate the standard amount of plasma collected during a donation. Donors must also be old enough to consent to the donation. In most states, the minimum age is 17. However, younger donors might be accepted with parental consent. Most plasma donation centers do not have an upper age limit for donors.
The FDA requires plasma donors to be examined by a physician at their first donation and yearly thereafter. On the day of donation, you must be feeling well with no signs of infection, such as a fever, cough or trouble breathing. Your temperature, blood pressure and pulse must also be normal. Your blood will be tested before the donation to be sure you have adequate protein and red blood cells. Some donation centers might ask you to follow a diet that includes an adequate amount of protein if you're a regular plasma donor -- to ensure you don't become deficient.
Your plasma will be tested after each donation to be sure you don't have any infections that could be transmitted through your blood, such as HIV and viral hepatitis. You will also be questioned about your travel history and lifestyle to determine whether you may be at risk for carrying certain infections that can be passed to others through your plasma. Your responses to these question may affect your eligibility to donate. Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma, may also affect your eligibility.
Medications and Vaccines
Most medications will not preclude you from donating plasma. However, there are some exceptions, such as prescription blood thinners and insulin, that may prevent you from donating. You will be asked to list all of your current medications so that the blood center staff can determine if you are eligible to donate. A recent vaccination may also make you ineligible for a period of time but will not disqualify you permanently.
Frequency and Other Considerations
According to FDA regulations, you can donate plasma up to twice per week -- but not 2 days in a row. The American Red Cross has different stipulations, stating you can donate plasma every 28 days, up to 13 times per year. Check with your donation center regarding its requirements about frequency of plasma donation. Plasma donations can occur more frequently than donations of whole blood because your body is able to replace plasma more quickly than blood cells.