And is there any industry that is immune?
One of the most valuable resources to the medical community cannot be artificially produced, its supply is based entirely off human donations. This lesser-known resource is plasma.
Whole blood may be the more widely known type of blood donation, but plasma donations are equally important, and demand is rising. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a blood and plasma shortage, which began in mid-2020 due to the pandemic. U.S. plasma collection fell drastically primarily due to concerns from donors about coming to collection centers during COVID-19. This plasma shortage had a global impact, as the U.S. supplies over two-thirds of the world’s plasma.
Plasma is critical for health care providers, caregivers and most importantly, patients. We have made many strides in transitioning our work and personal lives to virtual settings during this pandemic, but virtual plasma donation is simply impossible. Here is more information about donating plasma after your COVID-19 vaccine.
As a company centered around physical connection and care, we are deeply concerned about the rapid drop in donations and the impact it is having on our patient and donor communities.
It is interesting to note that the practice of donating plasma began during periods of strife and conflict. During World War II, U.S. hospitals implemented a “Blood Plasma for Britain” campaign to engage everyday people in the war effort yielding approximately 15,000 donors in five months. It was a tremendous success.
Plasma transfusions have always been a dire, life-saving treatment for trauma patients with burns or major blood loss. Today, millions of patients worldwide depend on plasma-based therapies not just for trauma care but for the treatment of hemophilia, hematology, and the development of novel immunotherapies. Donating plasma is a direct and effective way to give back to these communities, especially on commemorative holidays/dates such as World Hemophilia Day.
Plasma-derived medicines help patients with hemophilia to effectively prevent and control bleeding, which may ultimately save lives. A skinned knee, or even a bruise, can be life threatening for these patients. Plasma can give these patients and their loved one’s piece of mind and protection, but only if there are a consistent and large number of plasma donors.
Additionally, we at Octapharma Plasma value our donors, compensating them for their time and treat everyone with respect and care. We are a leader in the plasma industry, serving approximately 400,000 individuals every year. But first and foremost, we are a healthcare company, focused on caring for every individual that we directly and indirectly serve.
Compared to blood drives or platelet donations, plasma is often overlooked despite representing the largest percentage of our blood – nearly 55%. Donors have their blood drawn and a medical machine separates the plasma and platelets from your blood sample. This process is called plasmapheresis. The remaining red blood cells and other blood components are then returned to your body, along with a little saline solution.
As a result, donors may donate up to two times every seven days – approximately four times more often than the limit for annual platelet donations and nearly 18 times more often than the limit for annual whole blood donation.
With National Hemophilia Day behind us, we hope our words have a lasting effect, after all, a one-time plasma donation is simply not enough. Not only does our system need a considerable amount of plasma to serve patients with hemophilia and other blood clotting disorders, only your second plasma donation will go to a patient in need due to standard safety testing.
The only thing more important than your first plasma donation, is your second.
- Prevot J, Jolles S. Global immunoglobulin supply: steaming towards the iceberg?. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020;20(6):557-564.
- What is Plasma?org.
- Plasma Donation. DonatingPlasma.org.
- Starr, Douglas P. (2000). Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce. New York: Quill ISBN: 0-688-17649-6.
- Types of Blood Donations. Red Cross Blood.