July 16th, 2024

SACPA hears about need for plasma donations

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on September 29, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Brenna Scott holds a piece of a centrifuge while explaining how plasma donation works.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) invited a member of Canadian Blood Services to talk about plasma donation and the Plasma Donor Centre on Thursday.

Business development manager at Canadian Blood Services Plasma Centre Brenna Scott spoke to media prior to her presentation and said Canadian Blood Services was celebrating its 25th anniversary and she was happy to be able to spread awareness about plasma donation on such special day.

“Today our presentation will be all about our plasma centre, what plasma is, why it’s so important, what it’s used for, and really helping to spread the awareness within the community about the need for plasma,” said Scott.

 She said one of the topics of her talk was about explaining the difference between donating plasma and donating full blood.

 “Technically if you’ve donated whole blood in the past, you have donated plasma as plasma is 55 per cent of your blood volume. The difference is although it is still the one needle in your arm, when we collect the plasma, we use a machine beside you that is called a centrifuge, which spins the plasma out of the whole blood,” said Scott.

 She said after they collect the plasma, they return the red cells, white cells and platelets and they do that back-and-forth process, which is in a way similar to a dialysis, until they collect enough plasma for a full donation.

 “How much you’re able to donate is based on your height and weight, and you are eligible to donate plasma every seven days, which is a big difference from donating whole blood for men every 56 days and women every 84 days,” said Scott.

 She explains this wait period is due to the fact that the body needs more time to replenish blood cells than plasma.

 “Your body is able to regenerate the plasma that you give within 48 hours, so even if you donated plasma every week your body would still be absolutely safe and be able to do that. When you donate whole blood it takes a little bit more out of you, and takes a little bit more time to regenerate,” said Scott.

When it comes to what happens to the donated plasma, Scott says it is sent to a fractionator and made into medications called plasma protein products.

“The most common medication is called immune globulin and it’s used for a wide variety of health conditions like cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, immune deficiencies, RH disease in newborns, severe burns and that’s just to name a few,” said Scott.

 She said they have seen an increase in demand for those medications and for plasma and that is why they are trying to do presentations like the one at SACPA to promote the need for plasma across Canada.

Scott said for those interested to donate full blood, they would have to go to Calgary as the plasma centre cannot take full blood, but if they needed blood in Lethbridge, there was no reason to worry.

“With Canadian Blood Services our mandate is really to help patients all across Canada, so we never want people to worry that just because there is no whole blood donation centre, that they wouldn’t be able to have access to the products they need,” said Scott.

 She said they are making sure they can collect all the plasma they need here in Lethbridge, but they have full blood centres all across Canada that help patients all across Canada.

 “If you were in Lethbridge and you needed blood, you would still absolutely be able to get that here even though we don’t have a whole blood donation centre here,” said Scott.

When it comes to the need for donations, Scott said they are always looking for more people to donate as they always have spots to fill during clinic hours, week after week.

“We’re trying here in Lethbridge to bring in at least 200 new plasma donors each month. We do have about 75 appointments each week that aren’t being filled, so we do still have some work to go. We’re so grateful and thankful for our donors that come on a weekly, biweekly, monthly basis, but we’re trying to bring in some new faces as well, to fill that gap that we still have each week,” said Scott.

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