What Exactly Are Plasma Transfusions?

Donating plasma is a simple act that helps treat various pathologies. How can you do that? Who benefits from plasma transfusions? We explain more here.
What exactly are plasma transfusions?

Plasma transfusions have become very popular in recent years. What is plasma? It is the clear, slightly yellow liquid that does not contain blood cells.

Plasma is almost 55% of the total volume of our blood. The second part consists of cells such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In this fluid there are many proteins, such as albumin, which perform very important functions in the body.

Although many do not know it, plasma transfusions can treat many pathologies, such as bleeding or burning. In this article we will explain what this procedure consists of and why it is so important to donate blood.

What is blood plasma?

A doctor who separates blood.

As we have already mentioned, plasma is the liquid part of the blood, which is combined with the blood cells, both red and white, and the platelets. When the two parts are separated, the plasma looks like a transparent liquid.

Plasma is almost 90% water. However, the rest of the composition is a mixture of proteins and mineral salts that are essential for the body to function properly.

First, it contains immunoglobulins, which are the part of the immune system that helps protect you from infections. In addition, there is also albumin, which is a molecule that is responsible for transporting certain substances to the tissue.

Similarly , it is important to note that plasma also contains coagulation factors. This is what helps the blood to start coagulating when there is bleeding somewhere in the body.

How do plasma transfusions work?

Plasma transfusions are actually very simple procedures. First, it must be a giver. If you want to donate, it must be an altruistic and selfless act. Here, the nurse will draw the blood from the donor, and the process usually lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.

After the blood is drawn, the blood cells are separated from the plasma. Then they preserve and store the liquid. In the case of plasma donations only, it is called plasmapheresis.

The latter differs from donating blood in that the extracted cells are reintroduced and retain only the plasma. In addition, the convalescence is shorter, and you can donate every fifteen days.

It is also important to note that in order to perform a plasma donation , the donor and recipient must have the same blood type. This is because there are proteins in the plasma that can cause the body to reject the donated blood.

What is it for?

A doctor holding a vial of blood.

There are many reasons why doctors perform plasma transfusions. For example, when someone has suffered burns or a serious accident, a plasma transfusion helps the blood to regain lost volume.

In addition , this technique makes it possible to stop the bleeding faster since plasma has coagulation factors. In fact, it is especially useful for people suffering from diseases such as hemophilia, caused by the lack of any of these factors.

It is also used for liver transplants. However, techniques have been developed where instead of introducing all the plasma, they only use the molecules they need. They are called blood products.

For someone with hemophilia, for example, the coagulation factor that the person needs can already be transmitted. Although plasma transfusion is a safe technique, it has more disadvantages than if you only transfer blood products.

What we need to keep in mind is that plasma transfusions are simple procedures that can save many lives. Therefore, it is important that we are all aware that we can help many people by making a simple donation.

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