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‘Bleed’ by example and donate plasma

Presenting at TEDxQUT not too long ago, research student and sessional academic, Dominic Kauter shared his idea on how to get more people donating plasma. And rightfully so.

Sure, the Red Cross can separate your whole blood donation and retrieve the plasma, but we agree with Dominic that young Aussies should be educated and aware of the need and uses for this component of blood.

So, what is plasma and what does it do?

In a nutshell, plasma is the yellow tinged liquid component of blood that holds the cells in suspension. It makes up about 55 per cent of your whole blood and contains important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which are integral to preventing and stopping bleeding. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service recognises it as “the most versatile component of your blood [as] donated plasma makes up to 17 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases” and can be stored for up to one year after the day of donation.

How can you donate plasma?

The process for donating plasma is a little different to the regular whole blood donation, which you must have completed at least . Via a process called apheresis and a handy piece of machinery, the lovely people at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service are able to separate the plasma from your the rest of your blood. Red cells, white cells and platelets are returned to the donor, at the time of donation, with some saline over the course of around 45 minutes to an hour- plenty of time of you to kick back and relax!

As a result, you are able to donate plasma every 2-3 weeks and with every apheresis donation you make, you are able to donate a larger volume. This means you are potentially assisting more people in need and saving more lives- how cool is that?!

What is the criteria for a prospective plasma donor?

  • have given at least 1 successful whole blood donation in the past 2 years.
  • be between a male aged 18-65  or a female aged 20-65
  • weigh 50kg or more

Do you tick all these boxes? Please consider donating plasma today, especially if you can help the ARCBS with the particular need for blood type A, AB and B donations. To start donating plasma and helping others, give the Australian Red Cross Blood Service a call on 13 14 95 or simply visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/ready-to-donate/make-appointment.


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How does donated blood get used?

How donated blood is used

Image source: Australian Red Cross Blood Servcie

There are three main components that make up our blood- red blood cells,  plasma and platelets. Often, these components are separated to provide the most appropriate treatment to the one in every three Australians who require blood, or blood products, in their lifetime. We checked out the information available at The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS, 2013) and the Better Health Channel (2013) to bring you our run-through of what you’re donating and how it is used:

Red Blood Cells

These are the cells that carry oxygen through your blood and, at 42 days, have the longest shelf life of all the components. Most blood recipients receive these in order to boost the oxygen-carrying abilities of their blood. The majority of donated blood goes to people with cancer, those who are undergoing surgery, as well as those who have been suffered a severe accident and/or burns.

Plasma

Plasma is the liquid component of blood that holds the cells in suspension. It makes up about 55 per cent and contains important proteins, nutrients and clotting factors which are integral to preventing and stopping bleeding. ARCBS recognises it as “the most versatile component of your blood [as] donated plasma makes up to 17 life-saving products that help patients with trauma, burns and blood diseases.” Plasma can be stored for up to one year after the day of donation.

Platelets

Platelets are essential for ensuring the blood can clot in patients with a low platelet count or non-functioning platelets. They can be stored for up to five says and the ARCBS says that this usually aids those who are bleeding, or are at a high risk of bleeding, as a result of high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, major surgery, liver disease or severe trauma and haemorrhaging. Platelets also contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue.

Of course, all these components have an expiry date, so to speak, and continuous donations are needed to ensure a constant supply of blood and blood products. If you are an eligible donor, please consider donating today. Check out http://www.donateblood.com.au for more information and to book an appointment.