Mom has gotten a lot of questions asked here in blogville, Facebook and by email about why she is donating plasma and how they do it. I thought I would give mom the blog and let her explain everything.. it really is exciting when you think about it. Take it away mom!
Personally, I’ve been wanting to give plasma for a very long time. It helps a lot of different people with an assortment of medical problems. I’ve even seen a commercial on television lately about plasma helping people with arthritis.
Once you decide that you want to donate plasma, you have to go through enrollment. They will go over a series of medical questions with you, you will watch a video, you will then do a medical enrollment, take vitals and lastly you will be seen by an on-site nurse. If you make it through all of the criteria, then you are ready for a donation. After the initial enrollment, each time you donate you will have your vitals taken before donating. There are certain guidelines that you have to pass each time you donate. For instance, blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate have to be within range. Every time you go, you will have your weigh checked and you will also have your finger pricked so they can test your red blood cell count and your protein levels – which also have to be within range.
Once you pass all of above, then your next stop is the donor room. Depending on how many nurses they have on staff that day depends on how many ‘beds’ they have open at one time. A good bed to nurse ration is 12 beds. And they tell you standing in line, for every 12-15 people ahead of you it could be one hour worth of wait. So it’s not a quick thing. I have waited 3-4 hours at a time. But to me, giving plasma is worth the small price of inconvenience that I have to pay for waiting.
Giving blood plasma is a process called plasmapheresis. Say that real quick huh? You are hooked up to an IV in one of your arms. Does it hurt? I’ve had so many people ask me this. The needle is bigger than when you are having a blood test. Some nurses are also better than others – just like the doctors office. I’ve had some nurses do it and I don’t feel a thing. I’ve had other nurses do it where I cringe my eyes and try to breathe through the pain. And then people ask if it’s painful why do you do it? And I have to tell them that the little bit of uncomfortable pain that I might feel fleetingly is *nothing* compared to the people that it helps. I have to keep thinking of the bigger picture – people that are in need.
Once you are hooked up the IV, your blood is pumped out into this machine and goes into the bottle (which is the middle part of the picture). The plasma is stripped from your blood and placed into a container. The blood is then recirculated back into your body during a process they call the return. Now how long does it take? Well, depending on how much water you have drank throughout the past couple of days it can take anywhere between 35-90 minutes. Personally, it takes me around 30-35 minutes if nothing goes wrong.
If you see the bottle in this picture, it shows you the amount that you are donating. Plasma comes in all different colors – it can be bright red, pink, green or a tinge of white/red – all depending on the medicines that you take. Mine comes out a greenish/white. Over the Christmas holidays, I had a guy ask me why my color was green. Without missing a beat, I told him that my father was an Elf. Snorts – we all had a good laugh about that.
You can donate twice in a 7 day period. By the time you read this posting, I will have made my 17 donation! My personal goal was to donate 20 – so I’m almost there. I’ve had ups and downs during the process. One time, they couldn’t get my blood that was pumped out to return and I lost blood during the donation. Of course, I’ve been bruised at the IV site – it happens. I’ve had times that my iron was too low to give that day. I’ve had multiple problems with my pulse rate. The rate has to be 100 or less. I’ve had to sit out for 15 minutes to try the pulse again and there have also been times I couldn’t make it that day because of my pulse.
*Pictures are off the internet at various web sites to share how the process works.