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The Effects of Donating Plasma

The Effects of Donating Plasma: Short-Term and Long-Term

If you are interested in donating plasma or even if you’ve donated plasma before, you may be interested in the possible side effects of donating plasma. Plasma donations help improve the lives of many people—not only do you get compensated for your time and donation, but your donation contributes to valuable treatments for a variety of bleeding disorders, immune deficiencies, and other life threatening conditions.

Plasma donation is performed by plasmapheresis, a procedure by which the plasma, or liquid portion of whole blood, is separated from the blood cells.  For healthy adults who meet donation eligibility requirements, plasma donation is generally a safe procedure, but remember that any medical procedure may have potential side effects. Read on to learn about the short-term and long-term effects of donating plasma to help you make an informed decision. 

Potential Short-Term Side Effects of Donating Plasma

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness. Because plasma contains a lot of water, donating plasma means removing some water from your body, which can cause mild dehydration resulting in a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fatigue. If you experience dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, you may also feel tired.
  • Bruising or discomfort. Some bruising can occur at the site of the needle insertion, and you may experience some discomfort during the donation process. You can speak with a staff member if you are uncomfortable.
  • Infection or inflammation at the venipuncture site. After donation, you may experience pain, swelling, or feeling of warmth at the site of the needle insertion. If this occurs, contact the CSL Plasma center.

While some short-term side effects of plasma donation can occur, fortunately, you can stave off some of these effects with a bit of preparation. Before you donate plasma, be sure you do the following:

  • Drink four to six eight-ounce glasses of water, fruit juice, or other caffeine-free liquids at least two to three hours before donation.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages.
  • Avoid nicotine or alcohol.
  • Eat a well-balanced, non-fatty meal in the hours before you donate.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

After donating plasma, you can further alleviate any side effects by doing the following:

  • Eat a light meal.
  • Drink more fluids than usual for the next four hours to help rehydrate and replenish the liquids that you lost.
  • Avoid nicotine or alcohol.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects with the arm you used for donation.
  • Keep your venipuncture site (where the needle went in your arm) clean and dry.
  • Keep the bandage on for several hours.
  • If you experience any bleeding at the venipuncture site, raise your arm and apply pressure.
  • If you do experience dizziness or fainting, lie down or sit with your head between your knees.

How do you feel after donating plasma?

Generally, the donation process takes approximately an hour. Trained staff at CSL Plasma will check to see how you’re feeling during and after the process and to determine if you’re experiencing any side effects. You may feel a little thirsty or fatigued, but you can avoid that by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids and getting lots of sleep beforehand. It is also important that you rehydrate and avoid strenuous activity after you have donated plasma. If any symptoms or discomfort persist, call the center or see your healthcare provider.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Donating Plasma

For most healthy adults, donating plasma has a very minimal long-term impact on your well-being. According to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), you can donate plasma once every two days, no more than twice in a seven-day period. There is no risk of iron depletion or anemia for regular plasma donors, but CSL Plasma will check your iron levels prior to donation.

For donors who donate frequently or for an extended amount of time, there is a risk for depleting immunoglobulin levels, which can lower the ability to fight off infections. Be sure to check in with your healthcare provider to monitor your immunoglobulin levels if you are a frequent plasma donor.

If you have concerns about your ability to donate plasma, consult your healthcare provider before donating.  CSL Plasma will also screen you to ensure you can qualify for the donation process.

Ready to donate? Find a CSL Plasma donation center near you!