10 Surprising Facts about Blood Plasma

Plasma is a protein-rich liquid component of the blood that makes about 55% of a person’s total blood by volume, while the rest 45% portion of the blood is RBC, WBC, and platelets. Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid that is capable of incredible things, and scientists are discovering new uses for it in their ongoing research. Donating plasma plays a crucial role in treating several rare and chronic ailments and saving lives. Let us elaborate on ten surprising facts about blood plasma that you may not know:

Blood Plasma Facts

  1. Plasma contains about 90% water and 10% proteins such as albumin, gamma globulin, anti-haemophilic factor, ions, mineral salts, sugars, hormones, vitamins, fats, dissolved gases, and wastes.
  • The reticuloendothelial cells of the liver are responsible for plasma protein synthesis in adults. The degenerating blood cells, bone marrow, general body tissue cells, and the spleen also contribute significantly to the production of plasma proteins.
  • Blood plasma is crucial for fighting infection, helping blood to clot, maintaining the perfect blood pH levels, and transporting and eliminating waste stuff.
  • Donating plasma differs from donating the whole blood. Whole blood donation is a commonly known process while donating plasma is not that well-known.
  • Whole blood donation is generally required to help trauma patients or patients undergoing surgery whereas, plasma donation is important for making therapeutic medicines that are used to treat many life-threatening diseases. The process of donating plasma involves the extraction of plasma from the donor’s blood using a specific machine which is a slightly longer process than a usual whole blood donation process.
  • There are two types of blood plasma donations, i.e., source Plasma and recovered Plasma. The Source Plasma is donating Plasma through a process known as ‘plasmapheresis.’ In this process, the blood is drawn from the donor from which plasma is separated, and the remaining RBCs and other blood components are returned to the donor’s body. Source plasma donors contain up to 800ML of plasma in a single donation. Recovered plasma is derived from a whole blood donation, where the individual components of the blood are separated; in which case, the donated blood only contains 250ML of recovered Plasma.
  • Source plasma utilised for the treatment of more than 80 different diseases. The Life-saving therapies, known as therapeutic proteins are derived from the donated Plasma which is used to treat patients suffering from primary immunodeficiency, septic shock, haemophilia, rare blood disorders, and more.
  • Donating Plasma can be done more frequently than a whole blood donation. In regular blood donation, you are allowed to donate no more than once every 8-week, but you can donate Plasma twice within a seven-day period, the only restriction is that there should be at least 24 hours gap between the two donation days.  Donating Plasma should be considered a commitment, so you must donate more than once within a six-month timeframe.
  • It takes around 10,000-50,000 plasma donations to create one lot of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) which treats patients with primary immune deficiency disorders. To create sufficient life-saving therapies to help suffering patients, millions of litres of plasma are required to be donated every year. It takes about 1200 plasma donations to treat one patient with haemophilia, about 900 donations to treat one patient with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and about 130 plasma donations to treat one patient with a primary immune deficiency for a year. There is no replacement for the therapeutic proteins that derive from plasma as the antibodies, the proteins, and some clotting factors found in blood plasma are unique.
  1.  All provinces in Canada don’t compensate donors for donating Plasma whereas the US gives financial compensation for donating Plasma. The amount of compensation in the US may vary between $30 to $50 depending upon the condition of the donor’s health. Owing to this, Canada has to rely on Plasma from paid American donors to meet the growing requirement of blood plasma for their citizens.

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