What is plasma?
Plasma is the largest single component of blood, and makes up about 55% of total blood volume. It is a clear, straw-coloured liquid, which carries platelets, red and white blood cells.
It contains over 700 proteins and other substances. Once separated from blood cells, plasma can be used in transfusions.
We collect plasma by separating it out from regular blood donations.
We also collect plasma from our male A and AB type platelet donors, while they’re donating platelets.
Plasma from female donors is not currently used. This is because women are more likely to have antibodies in their plasma, created against their baby’s blood during pregnancy.
How plasma is used to save lives
Donated plasma is frozen to preserve its quality and function. This component is known as fresh frozen plasma, or FFP.
FFP can be issued to hospitals or further processed into a more concentrated component that is rich in certain clotting factors called cryoprecipitate.
Plasma transfusions can help the blood to clot and also replace dangerous substances in the patient’s own plasma.
FFP and cryoprecipitate can be used to help many types of patients – for example people with massive blood loss, liver failure, or rare diseases.
Keri Anglin (pictured) received 22 units of blood, 16 units of fresh frozen plasma, two units of cryoprecipitate and two units of platelets, after a massive bleed while giving birth.
Plasma for immunoglobulins
Plasma can also be used for medicines called immunoglobulins. We do not work with these products.