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In 2024, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service aims to increase the number of plasma donors in Scotland so we can start manufacturing Plasma for Medicines. These products are very important for Scotland's patients. Over the year we aim to increase our plasma donor base to around 1,000 people, and we would love for you to join us.

Read our plasma enrolment leaflet

 

At this time we are contacting Group B donors who donate at their local donor centre. If you are Group B, please read more, and our staff will speak to you about plasma donation when you come to give blood at session. 

  • As a group B blood donor, we are particularly keen to appeal to you, because group B plasma donors are in the amazing position of being able to help treat significantly more patients than group B whole blood donors.
  • As a group B blood donor, your donation can potentially help around 13% of the population (ie, those with B or AB blood group).
  • However, as a Plasma for Medicine donor, your donation could be given to anyone in the country

What is plasma?

Plasma is the clear, straw-coloured liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are removed. Plasma makes up 55% of human blood and is the single largest component. It contains antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins. It also contains water and proteins called clotting factors, which stop bleeding.

What is plasma used for?

Plasma can be used to make a variety of life-saving products and medicines. These currently include:

  • Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP): FFP is produced by quickly freezing plasma donations to preserve their clotting factors. It can be used to treat patients with major bleeding or who have low levels of certain clotting factors.
  • Cryoprecipitate (Cryo): Cryo is a blood product prepared from fresh frozen plasma. It is used to treat patients with bleeding and liver disorders.

What is changing?

In Spring 2024 we will start manufacturing a new plasma product called 'Plasma for Medicine.' Plasma will be used to make immunoglobulin therapy which can be used to help patients with weakened immune systems fight infection, both those born with immune system disorders, and those who have developed them following cancer, cancer treatments or transplants.

Plasma for Medicine will be collected by plasma donations as well as plasma separated from whole blood donations.

Immunoglobulin therapy can be made from donations from both female and male donors. Therefore, going forward, both female and male donors will be able to give plasma donations.

Who can give plasma donations?

Plasma donors must be:

  • at least 60kg
  • any blood group (but we're particularly keen to welcome donors with group B blood group at this time)
  • a donor with strong veins that will tolerate the specialist machine that collects your blood and returns some blood components back to you
  • an existing donor who has given blood or platelets at least once before (only applicable to females)
  • able to donate at Donor Centres in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee or Inverness
  • willing to spare 60-90 minutes each time they give plasma

Plasma donors can donate every 4 weeks. Donors commitment may vary, but we would love to welcome you 4-6 times per year. Additional tests will be carried out when we see you prior to enrolment.

Are there any risks associated with giving plasma?

Most of the risks of plasma donation are similar to the risks associated with blood donation. Side effects can sometimes include:

  • Bruising and pain: Most pain and bruising is minor, and symptoms settle quickly with no or simple measures. Fewer than 1 in 50 donations lead to bruising.
  • Feeling faint: Around 1 in 80 donations lead to donors feeling faint. New blood donors are more likely to be affected, however drinking plenty of clear fluids (at least 500ml) before donation significantly reduces the likelihood of fainting.
  • Citrate effect: Citrate is a blood thinner which occurs naturally in the body. It is added to the donation to prevent blood clotting. A small amount is returned to the donor with their red cells. Most donors feel no side effects, but some may feel tingling around their mouth, fingertips or toes, a metallic taste, or chills. These effects are easily managed by slowing the procedure down.
  • Other complications of donation include severe pain, arm inflammation, injury of a nerve or a punctured artery. These are rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 1,000 donations.
  • Sometimes the donation may need to be stopped early. This could be because we can't get a good blood flow, or you're feeling side effects, such as discomfort or bruising.
  • If this happens, you may need to wait before you can donate again. Our staff will advise you if this is the case.

If you become at all uncomfortable during your donation, it is vital you let a member of staff know. Our team is trained to take the best possible care of you.

Scotland's donor centres

Where can I give plasma?

I’m interested – what should I do?

If you're already a blood donor, keep giving blood as usual. However, when you next donate, speak to a member of staff and tell them you're interested in giving plasma. They will check your veins and take additional samples from your donation, and assess if you are suitable to give plasma.

After that, you will be added to our 'Interested in Plasma' Donor Club. We will keep in touch with you, and book you in for your enrolment appointment and first plasma donation from Spring 2024. 

If you're not already already a donor, get in touch with us online, selecting 'Plasma enquiry' on the drop down menu.

We look forward to seeing you.

Current blood stock levels across Scotland Tuesday 27 February

We aim to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.

Learn more about blood types