A blood plasma center is a type of medical facility in which donations of plasma are collected. This donated plasma may then be used to treat blood disorders in other individuals, and is invaluable for people who require this type of medical treatment. Unlike blood donation, for which donors are almost never paid, plasma donation is often a for-profit venture. An individual may receive a small stipend for donating his or her plasma at a blood plasma center. Before donating at one of these centers, it is important to make sure that it is licensed by a third-party certifier, like the International Quality Plasma Program (IQPP).
Similar to any other type of medical facility, a blood plasma center is staffed by trained technicians or nurses capable of safely extracting plasma from the blood. It is a completely safe and sterile process, and donors must meet certain requirements ahead of time before donating. Minimum age and weight limits are generally determined, as well as an initial physical examination to ensure overall health, and testing of the blood to be sure no communicable diseases are present. The blood will be tested again after each donation to ensure it is safe, and most people are also tested prior to donation with a simple finger stick to be sure their hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are within acceptable and safe ranges. All of this will take place at the blood plasma center.
The next step at the blood plasma center is actually donating the plasma. Similar to any other type of blood donation, a needle is inserted in the arm for the duration of the process while blood is drawn; the plasma is separated from the whole blood in an external mechanical device, and then the remaining blood components are returned to the donor's body through the same needle. The entire process of donating at a blood plasma center will generally take at least an hour or more. A simple snack of juice or cookies is often provided to prevent lightheadedness, but it is a good idea to eat in advance as well.
Because many blood plasma centers are for-profit, they will often pay donors for their plasma. This is not a large amount, but it is an incentive to get people to donate. The blood plasma center will specify the frequency with which an individual can donate, sometimes as frequently as once every week or two. It is important to stick to these requirements in order to avoid potential issues such as permanent damage to the veins. It is also important to remember that though a payment may not be offered, it is still very important to donate blood on a regular basis to help others.