So, I used to donate plasma all the time in the US; they pay for plasma over there and I was a broke college kid. Well, I always like helping out so I looked into it over here and scheduled several appointments to donate more plasma and blood. I also discovered another form called platelets, but I’m not eligible for that and I’ll talk about that a little bit later.
Donating whole blood is what most people do and think of when donating blood. They will draw blood and, once they’ve taken a specific amount, you’re good to go. They may separate it later in a lab and should only take about 15 to take everything they need (but plan for longer for the whole appointment). The blood will be used for cancer and disease patients, those with anaemia or who have had serious accidents, and used in operations and childbirth. You need to be between 18 and 70 years old and way more than 50kg with a reasonable health condition. Whole blood can be donated every 12 weeks.
Donating plasma is a pretty different experience. The machine will draw your blood, separate it, and then return the red-blood cells back to your body, leaving behind the plasma which is a straw-coloured liquid. Plasma actually makes up about 50% of your blood, so you’ll get about half of what they take back. It takes about 45 minutes (again, plan longer for the whole thing) and the same criteria apply for eligibility. Plasma can be stored longer than whole blood and donated much more frequently at every 2 weeks. According to the Australian Red Cross site, plasma can currently be used 18 ways including helping those with burns and cancer, fighting chicken pox and tetanus, helping those with diseases or in need of bone marrow transplants, and aiding to stop severe bleeding.
Platelets are the components in your blood that allow it to clot and stop bleeding. They are important to people gong through cancer treatments, surgery, trauma, or liver disease. Now I don’t personally have any experience donating platelets but the process is similar to plasma: they take your blood, separate what they need and return the rest. It only lasts five days, so the demand for platelets is pretty high. The requirements for donating platelets are the same as whole blood and plasma with two big additions. You have to have made a successful plasma donation within the last year and you must be male. It has something to do with women who had children being more susceptible to transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). So basically, the process is safer for men than women.
As long as you do what the brochure and staff ask, donating is safe and easy.
All of this information and more can be found at the Australian Red Cross website at https://www.donateblood.com.au.