Donating Plasma

Am I eligible to give plasma?

Due to an increasing demand for blood products made from plasma, more plasma donors are needed every year. To learn more or to sign up to become a plasma donor, please contact your nearest Donor Centre:

Auckland Ph 09 523 6482
Hamilton Ph 07 839 9645
Tauranga Ph 07 578 2194
Palmerston North Ph 06 350 0963
Wellington Ph 04 380 2308
Christchurch  Ph 03 343 9081
Dunedin Ph 03 477 9920


What is plasma used for?
Plasma is used to treat people who have lost a lot of blood from accidents or other trauma and people who have severe bleeding during surgery. Plasma is also used to create up to 11 lifesaving blood products which help to:

  • boost the immune system of people who have low levels of antibodies
  • control some autoimmune disorders where the patient’s own immune system is attacking their own tissues
  • provide special clotting factor concentrates for some people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

How long does the process take?
Plasma donations take about 60 minutes on the donation bed (compared to 5-10 minutes for whole blood), so please allow about 90 minutes including the time to complete the Donor Questionnaire form, interview with a nurse and refreshments afterward.

How is it different from giving whole blood?
Giving plasma is an automated process where instead of donating whole blood, the donor gives only a certain part or component, e.g. plasma. The donor's blood is collected, the red blood cells and plasma and platelets are separated, and then the red blood cells and platelets are returned to the donor using a process called "apheresis".

What does apheresis mean?
Apheresis (pronounced ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special type of blood donation and comes from the Greek word meaning, "to take away" or "to separate".

How does an apheresis machine work?
An apheresis machine is used to collect plasma. The blood is taken from one arm (one needle only) and channelled through a sterile, disposable kit housed in a special machine - a cell separator. The separator automatically removes the plasma from the donor's blood using a centrifuge and returns the rest to the donor using the same needle.

Will I feel any different giving plasma?
As your red cells are returned to you using the apheresis machine, you most likely won't feel as tired after giving these donations (although this varies for each individual).

Is it safe?
All tubing, bags and needles used in the process are new, sterile and used only once. After use, they are destroyed.

Are there any side effects?
This can vary for each donor but some donors may feel cold during their donation (blankets can be provided!), or feel a tingly sensation in their lips or hands. This is because as blood is drawn during an apheresis donation, a substance called citrate is added to the blood to prevent clotting while the blood is outside the body. Some of the citrate is returned to the donor and may cause tingling around the mouth or coldness during the donation. These are temporary conditions only, and the citrate is broken down very quickly in the bloodstream.

How frequently can I donate?
Donating by apheresis provides large quantities of plasma, and because donors are not giving red blood cells they can donate more frequently. You can donate every two to three weeks (rather than every 3 months)

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