Sunday, June 2, 2013

Does Donating Blood Plasma Hurt - How Bad's the Pain?


I'm donating plasma for the first time next week. Does donating plasma hurt very bad? What is involved in plasma donations? Are there any health problems to watch out for? Is donating plasma bad for you?  I have read in many places that it's really no different from donating blood except for the time spent. Basically I'm wondering how much it hurts to donate plasma.

So far, I have never donated plasma, but I am fairly experienced a blood donor. I regularly donate blood and plasma at my local Red Cross, for free, so I can only speak from experience. I try to avoid blood centers that pay, since one should be able to donate for free through the Red Cross and other places.


How You Feel Physically After a Donation

A: Donating plasma isn't painful most of the time, and it isn't bad for your health, it just takes a little longer. If you donated blood and the small amount of pain didn't bother you, donating plasma should be no different. As for health issues, if you are a healthy individual, there should not be any. 


How you feel physically after donating, whether you feel arm pain, nausea, or tiredness depends on if you've prepared beforehand, such as drinking plenty of water. As long as you are healthy and stay properly hydrated plasma donation is as safe as donating blood.

I always encourage people who have never donated before to join me to give blood, not plasma, so that they can get used to the process.


I can not comment on the safety of donating for pay, but if you are concerned, you might consider a donation to the local Red Cross or a similar center, if you're not dependent on the money you would otherwise get.


How Bad Does Plasma Donation Hurt Compared to Donating blood?


The same things happen during blood and plasma donations: large bore IV insertion and little finger prick (Hint:. Alternating fingers after a while helps reduce finger pain.) They prick your finger for a quick test, and then they put the needle in your and leave it there while you give plasma.


They put a needle in your hand as if donating blood, but the needle is bigger, and it hurts more than giving blood. According to most donors, plasma donation is nothing more than a poke in the finger, and a needle in the hand, like donating blood, but you just lie there watching TV for 45 to 100 minutes.


There is a shortage of both blood and plasma, but more people are willing to donate blood just because it's actually a lot easier and less painful to donate whole blood. Donating plasma "hurts" a little more than just donating blood, but plasma is really necessary for life saving immuno-treatment.


Does Donating Plasma Hurt Your Body's Muscle Growth?

For all weight lifters and strength trainers wanting to give plasma, no - donating plasma does not hurt muscle growth. Donating does hinder muscle development in children, especially children 16 and under. But children aren't allowed to give plasma. As long as you are a healthy adult, and stay hydrated, donating plasma doesn't harm your body's muscle growth in any way.

Does Donating get less painful after a while?


Donating plasma can be a discomfort and in some cases a little painful, but it should stop being so very quickly. Regular donors announce their first donation hurting most, with the second and third hurting less. Regular donors develop scarring, reducing the pain of the needle puncture. After months of donation, donors report not feeling the sting of the needle at all - just a slight discomfort while the needle is in the skin.


How to Make Plasma Donation Less Painful

Plasma donation can be painful for both men and women, especially for young donors, or donors with sensitive skin/small veins. But how to make donating less painful? Follow these three simple guidelines:

1.) Pump your hand, use a squeezy. Pumping your hand seems counterproductive, right? Pumping a muscle makes your pulse/blood pressure rise, putting pressure on the nerves. But actually, pumping your hand numbs the nerves, and prevents pain at the injection site. Pumping your hand at a fast speed also keeps blood moving in the plastic tubes - congealed blood can lead to pain, improper saline dosage, and future donation rejection for loss of blood.

2.) Drink Plenty of water. Being dehydrated makes donations longer and more painful. Staying hydrated makes the blood return (the process of pumping the blood back into you) smoother, with less pain and risk of clotting.

3.) Donate plasma in the early morning/evening. You've heard that pumping gas at night increases the liquid flow of the gas, giving you more gas volume for your money, right? Donating plasma in the early morning/evening uses the same science - liquids flow easier when it's cold out, such as early morning and evening hours. Your plasma is 90% liquid water, so increase the donation flow and make donating less painful by planning your donation schedule before or after mid-day. Donating in the morning (instead of during the day or at night) should also mean you relax more during donation, before the stress of the day has begun. Relaxing during donation means less pressure on the nerves, less anxiety, and a less painful donation.

The final guideline is the most important step: relax. Anxiety during donation makes you clench your muscles subconsciously, restricting blood vessel flow. Restricting blood flow makes donation harder, and causes more pain, so relax, and clear your mind of anxiety and concerns to make plasma donation less painful.

Are there other Drawbacks to Donating Plasma?


Another down side is to donating plasma is that the anti-coagulant can give a metallicy strange taste in the mouth, or in some cases, numb lips. This is a very common reaction to donating platelets / plasma (whenever citrated blood re-enters the body - so whenever you donate apheresis product).


You can have any complications you would have when you donate blood if you are not healthy (a little low on iron, calcium, vitamin K, or anything else.)


Bruises


Good insertion is usually (but not always) indicated by very little to no bruising. Occasionally I saw some bruises with some donors, nothing major. I only suffered bruises and pain once. The needle is the only thing you can feel. I've been lucky - The few places I've donated at have been very experienced.



Another donor said: "I donated platelets - not plasma, but I believe that the process is very similar - almost every two weeks for almost a year and a half years ago. I was a terrible bruiser, only the most experienced staff would leave me with a tiny bruise. Otherwise I'd get a three to four inch bruise that turned very interesting colors for the next week or so. "

This painful experience was not typical. You should not experience bruising and pain during plasma (or platelet) donation - the only time the donation will cause a painful bruise is if an inexperienced phlebotemist inserts the needle too far, hitting a nerve.

Some people are better skilled in pricking the veins of others, and the volunteer center where I started donating plasma could never get it right. So I started donating to CSL Plasma, and had no pain or bruising since.


What happens during a Donation


Plasma is only one component of blood. It is not any different from donating blood, it is donating blood. You donate whole blood, and they separate in the laboratory or blood bank. Plasma is the blood, and they actually take it apart. They take your blood, and then put through a centrifuge, separating the plasma from the red blood cells.

They then draw blood, separate the plasma from the red blood cells, and red blood cells are put back into your body. A machine filters plasma from blood and (deposits) plasma in a bag. The place I donated at would then put saline in your body after  repeating the cycle 5-6 times. Because the blood is pumped back to you, you can donate plasma more often than you can donate blood.


Why donate blood or plasma


I donated plasma for extra cash for all my college years, but I only donate whole blood anymore. In college, I gave plasma more than 30 times in six months. For me, it does not hurt more than donating blood.


Plasma donations can be a very noble thing, but you have to think about yourself. A guy I know picked up Hep C from donating blood plasma. Donation is usually safe, but you have to know your body and be careful. I'm sure that if you dig enough you'll find a horror story about plasma donation hurting, but that's the truth about blood donation as well.


Also, do not feel bad if you do not want to donate again because of pain or discomfort. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain during donation, you should be able to tell the staff without feeling stupid, and they should be doing something about it.


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2 comments:

  1. Do they prick your finger everytime you go donate? I donated once and and started seeing stars and my lips went numb. I want to go again but im scared im gona have an anxiety attack or actually pass out. But I was on a diet and protein shakes whith one meal a day idk if that had anything to do why I was feeling that way!

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  2. Um, yeah, your diet definitely had something to do with it. The same exact thing happened to me the first time I donated whole blood, and I actually DID pass out. They wouldn't let me donate for six months after that. I got back on a 'normal' diet, and haven't had any problems since :-)

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