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Give life with blood and plasma

Financial donations and volunteering are popular ways to give back to nonprofit organizations. However, there are many additional ways to give back, including donations that can help save lives.

Donating blood can be a worthwhile effort for someone looking to make a difference. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood or blood products. When people think of donating blood products, they may think about donating whole blood. However, there’s a need for other components, namely plasma. Here’s a deeper look at what’s involved in the blood and plasma donation process.

Blood versus plasma

Whole blood donations include donating all four blood components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Whole blood is used to treat blood loss that occurs during an injury or surgery.

Patients in need of plasma may have cancer, immunodeficiencies or rare diseases that can benefit from plasma treatment. Additionally, there is a global demand for plasma-derived medicine, such as immunoglobulin, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation. One patient who needs Ig for a year requires 130 to 1,200 plasma donations to procure enough plasma.

Plasma is separated from whole blood, and there is not enough plasma in the whole blood supply to cover the demand for whole blood as well as plasma separately.


Donors must meet some eligibility requirements, according to the American Red Cross.

Blood: Blood can be donated once every 56 days. Individuals must be in good health, at least 16 years old in most areas, and must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Plasma: All blood types can give plasma, but only AB plasma type is universal. People with AB blood are considered elite plasma donors. Plasma can be donated once every 28 days. Good health is required and donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh no less than 110 pounds.

Donors also can donate red blood cells and platelets separately from whole blood or plasma. There are different eligibility requirements for these blood components.

Time commitment

It takes roughly 60 minutes to make a whole blood donation, said HHS. Plasma donation wait times can vary. An initial donation can take about two hours, while subsequent donations may be 90 minutes.


Apart from the feeling of satisfaction from helping others, donating blood can help save the lives of up to three people. Since plasma donations are so important, and there is a greater time commitment to donation, some plasma donors are financially reimbursed.


Individuals interested in donating blood products are urged to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Twenty-four hours before the appointment, the American Red Cross recommends drinking nine to 13 cups of water, and an additional two cups prior to the donation. Meals full of iron and protein are essential, and caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and fatty foods should be avoided.

Donating whole blood, plasma and other blood products can make a difference in the lives of many. Visit to learn more about becoming a blood donor.

Fallbrook residents can donate blood at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1620 S. Stage Coach Lane, Dec. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, visit


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