To be eligible for plasma donation, you need to meet a number of criteria as well as follow some specific rules in order to keep your eligibility. The plasma donation process involves careful screening of each new potential donor in order to minimize the possibility of disease transmission. Good candidates for donating plasma are individuals in general good health with no histories of illegal drug use or other high-risk behavior often associated with contracting conditions such as hepatitis or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Most plasma donation banks have minimum requirements for donor age and body weight as well.
When first beginning the donation process, you will probably need to provide at least one form of government-issued photo identification, such as a passport. Some commercial plasma donation centers may also require proof of a local address; a recent piece of mail showing your name is often all that is required. Plasma donors usually need to be between the ages of 18 and 65 and live within 125 miles (about 201 kilometers) of their local donation bank.
Testing before donating plasma typically involves a basic physical exam and a series of questions regarding your current health. A donation center staff member will usually record your weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Sometimes a finger-prick blood test will also be performed to ensure you do not have anemia, since too little iron in the blood can often present a health risk when attempting to donate plasma. Some plasma bank examiners may also ask about any visible scars you may have from past surgery or healed injuries.
Potential donors are usually required to weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (about 50 kg) to be eligible. If you have gotten a recent tattoo or piercing on any part of the body, you may have to wait up to one year before becoming eligible as a plasma donor. During the eligibility screening, you may sometimes be required to list every piercing you have ever received, even if some are healed over.
Donors with low blood pressure are often not eligible to donate plasma until their tested blood pressure increases to a minimum level. Side effects such as marked dizziness and fainting can sometimes happen just after someone with low blood pressure donates plasma. If you have high blood pressure and are taking medication to control it, you may also have to wait a few weeks after stopping the medication before donating plasma.