How do I Donate Blood Plasma?

Ron Marr

While plasma donor centers may not exist in many rural areas, they are almost always present in urban areas and college towns. In years past, before the need arose to screen blood against deadly viruses and diseases, many street people or homeless individuals were known to donate blood plasma. This is hardly ever the case in these times, due to the risk of such maladies as AIDS and hepatitis.

During a blood plasma donation, blood is taken from the donor and the plasma is then separated from the rest of the blood.
During a blood plasma donation, blood is taken from the donor and the plasma is then separated from the rest of the blood.

A plasma donation is not the same thing as a blood donation. Plasma is a substance in the blood, the liquid portion that carries hormones, vitamins, blood cells, and platelets through the body. Its medical uses are myriad. Plasma is used as an anticoagulant for hemophiliacs, and is critical in many areas of medical research and development.

Blood testing is a required part of the blood plasma donation process.
Blood testing is a required part of the blood plasma donation process.

A person who wishes to donate blood plasma will need to jump through a few hoops and navigate some red tape on his first visit to a center. They should set aside a few hours on this initial trip. The donor will undergo a thorough screening, and numerous questions will be asked regarding medical history, sexual history, drug use, allergies, foreign travel, lifestyle, and much more. Again, the donor centers do not take risks when it comes to blood-borne viruses or diseases.

A blood plasma donation station.
A blood plasma donation station.

Assuming one passes the interrogation, a blood test will be taken. If all appears to be well, then a person may donate blood plasma. The process is simple, but it does take some time.

The donor is hooked up to the appropriate machinery, and blood is extracted from a vein in their arm. The blood goes into a device much like a centrifuge, and the plasma is separated from the other blood products. Then, the blood cells are pumped back into the body. This cycle will repeat several times, until the appropriate amount of plasma has been harvested.

The collection process should be completed within ninety minutes, at which time the donor will be provided with liquids, possibly given some cash, and sent on their way. Payments for plasma donation average out at about $25 US Dollars (USD), but there are also many opportunities to donate plasma out of the goodness of one's heart. One can usually donate blood plasma as often as twice per week.

A bag of blood plasma.
A bag of blood plasma.

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Discussion Comments


I am a blood donor in Calif. I recently came to the Fort Worth, Texas area and wanted to donate plasma and was turned down.

I'm having a hard time understanding and can't seem to get a reasonable answer from the company that collects the plasma. I have a ccs in situ cancer, and Bowen's disease, which was diagnosed in the 1980's.

I have never had chemo, radiation or any type of medication. When I did have a flare up, the cancer was cut out and stitched, and now it would be lasered, which hasn't had to happen for several years.

I see a doctor at UCSF MT Zion now every nine months. It was every six months for the first few years. I expect it to go to every year upon my next visit. Does anyone know why I shouldn't be able to give plasma, when my blood is totally acceptable?


Some people actually donate blood plasma to make some extra money. I am aware of one example where two times a week the volunteer is donating blood plasma for $20 per donation. I suppose that is the maximum one can give in a given time.

After all the body needs time to replenish the removed plasma.

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