Generally, donating plasma is not as common or frequently spoken about as donating blood, and you tend to hear more about it when natural disasters strike, which mostly requires an increased supply of plasma. However, take note that this form of donation is always required but differs from blood donations in a way that blood is taken from your body, plasma is extracted from it and the blood is then returned to your body—a procedure that is a little painful and takes about an hour to complete. Its concept can surely make you wonder whether it is damaging to your health or not, which would mean that you are thinking about donating plasma at a certain point in the future. Well, it is important to know about its pros and cons first to come up with a well-informed decision.
List of Pros of Donating Plasma
1. It offers you the opportunity to help other people in need.
Health conditions (usually life threatening) brought about by natural disasters would increase the need for plasma, as it is used for saving the lives of people who would have been difficult to save otherwise. Now, this would be the best way to help others, especially if you often feel good and happy about giving a hand or offering kind acts. Donating plasma would even be more satisfactory and meaningful during times when you are in need of extra money for an important expense to support your daily living.
2. It helps save lives of many people.
Generally, donated plasma is given to patients who are in dire health situations, like suffering from leukemia, having an organ transplant or being a burn victim. Healing or treatment of such conditions without plasma would become very difficult and might even become ineffective.
3. It reduces the risk of having serious health conditions.
Although it is still not understood by researchers why and how, people who donate plasma on a regular basis have lowered risk of developing health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, later on in life.
4. Its procedure is generally safe.
Depending on your current health status, you may not be accepted in plasma donation drives, especially if you have impaired vital signs or high blood pressure. This is to protect your health as well as the potential recipient of your plasma.
5. It provides proteins that are needed by some people to survive.
As you can see, many recipients of plasma are either suffering from leukemia or severe burns, which are characterized with slim chances of survival. Without plasma, it would be impossible for these patients to be able to have their conditions effectively treated. For the thousands of children who are diagnosed with leukemia each year, this type of donation is a lifeline that should always be available.
6. It gives you a way to earn extra income when necessary.
Unlike blood donations that are not paid in many cases, donating plasma will always provide you with monetary compensation, of course with some frequency limitations. Aside from cash, it is also possible for you to receive other options, such as gift cards, vouchers and food certificates—anything that is associated with cash value.
List of Cons of Donating Plasma
1. It can be tiring for your body.
Though it is deemed safe, donating plasma can wear out your body over a certain period of time. If you had collapsed veins, it might also take longer for you to find veins for donation, especially when you donate regularly. Also, the center would not allow you to leave unless you are physically fit, which can make your stay even longer. The serious effects of this procedure are especially true to donors who mysteriously pass the screening by lying about or covering up their true health status.
2. It decreases your calcium stores.
To separate plasma from your blood, most donation centers use anti-coagulants to make the process easier and faster, but these drugs will remove calcium from your blood. If this component is not replaced before the blood is returned to your body, there will be short and long-term health effects on you as donor.
3. It can leave you very dehydrated.
As plasma is water based, donating plasma can leave your body dehydrated, which can cause dizziness, vomiting and even fainting.
4. It has the potential to have negative effects on your long-term health.
This problem will not arise if you donate plasma sometimes, but if you do it regularly, you will gain some damage to your overall health. Remember that regular donations can cause a 10% decrease in the production of antibodies in your body.
5. Its process can be scary or uncomfortable.
When you undergo the procedure for the first time, you will need to answer some very personal questions, including those about your sexual history. Also, it will be pursued only when you are fully hydrated, thus you will be required to drink two glasses of water before you start.
6. It requires you to face needles.
Some people cannot bear having needles poked in their bodies, while some people just do not like the idea of giving away their body parts. When donating plasma, a needle will remain inserted in your body for at least half an hour, so you will have to bear with the experience.
7. It is highly risky if unregulated.
Take note that some centers may deliberately bypass the standard screening process, giving a “go” signal to unwell donors. This can cause health risks to both the donors and the recipients, making them prone to diseases or even putting them at risk to die. Even healthy donors who are allowed to undergo the procedure and donate more frequently than what is recommended could put themselves at risk of health degradation.
Keep in mind that donating plasma is a decision that you should not take lightly. While it comes with great benefits, it also carries some risks that need to be considered carefully. By weighing all the pros against the cons listed above, you can now decide whether you like to give it a try or not.