Does Plasma Donation Differ from Donation of Blood?

Friday July 14th, 2017

Everyday, millions of people go out of their way to perform acts of service otherwise known as good deeds for their family, friends, and even total strangers. While some individuals choose to give back in the form of volunteering at local organizations, others may prefer to help a neighbour out with a household task. As a Canadian citizen, any way in which you choose to devote yourself to helping others is valuable, however, there are some avenues for public service that are less explored but inherently important, such as plasma donation.

While you’ve certainly heard about individuals in your community donating blood, plasma donation is not as frequently discussed. Although donating plasma is the lesser-known option of the two, the importance of it cannot be understated, as thousands of Canadians rely upon plasma protein products each day to manage their various health conditions.

Furthermore, due to lack of awareness, many individuals falsely believe that plasma and blood donation are the same thing. Therefore, we at Canadian Plasma Resources are here to clear up any misconceptions:

What is Plasma?

Plasma is the translucent component of blood that remains once all white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and other cellular components have been removed. Composed of 90% water, plasma is a “transporting medium” that works to clot blood and fight illness within the body.

The confusion between blood and plasma can be easily understood, as plasma makes up 55% of blood. Found within plasma, however, is water, salt, antibodies, other proteins, and a variety of enzymes.

What is Blood?

Blood is a liquid tissue produced by bone marrow that is pumped throughout the body by the heart. It effectively removes waste from the body and supplies organs with oxygen, minerals, hormones, and nutrients. Furthermore, as previously touched upon, blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Plasma Donation

When donating, healthy individuals provide their plasma to be used by the medical community to create therapies that save lives. Through a process called Plasmapheresis, source plasma is collected from donors and then manufactured into therapies for a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions including:

  • Immune deficiencies
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Hemophilia
  • Liver disorders
  • Surgical bleeding
  • Burns and shock

Plasma versus Blood Donation

plasma vs blood

With whole blood donation, your blood is separated into parts to treat multiple medical conditions. Additionally, after an individual has donated blood, the plasma portion of the donation is replaced within hours, the platelet portion within days, and the red blood cells within a few months. Therefore you have to wait at least 12 weeks between blood donations (8 weeks if you are a male donor)

A plasma donor can safely donate as frequently as once a week since there is no cell loss and the body regenerates the plasma within a day. Canada is self-sufficient in all blood components with the exception of plasma. Currently only about 15% of all plasma needed for therapeutic purposes in Canada comes from Canadian donors and the rest is supplied by US donors.   

The Importance of Donation

At Canadian Plasma Resources, we recognize that donating plasma requires a time commitment that we are dedicated to compensating for.

Our donors understand that plasma is their resource to give, and gain immense personal satisfaction from knowing that they have found a way to positively impact the lives of their fellow Canadians.

If you’re feeling inspired to donate plasma, visit our website to learn more about just how valuable your donation will be!