Should I Eat Before donating plasma? For those that are unfamiliar with the process, donating plasma is a painless and safe procedure where blood is taken from your arm in order to collect the plasma. You are then given juice and snack foods to drink prior to donating as well as compensation for your time. But what happens if you eat before you donate? Is it a good or bad idea?
Plasma donation is one of the most common methods of donating blood. Some plasma centers may accept a combination of whole blood and plasma. Plasma is collected by plasmapheresis, which is a process similar to dialysis.
What is blood plasma?
Blood plasma is a liquid component of blood. It is the most significant blood component, accounting for approximately 55% of total blood volume. The primary function of plasma is to transport red blood cells and other blood components throughout the body.
It consists mainly of water (upwards of 90%) and platelets. Platelets are tiny particles in the whole blood that help clot the blood after an injury. When exposed to trauma, these little critters release chemicals called “granules”, which stick together to form clumps that prevent further bleeding.
There are three kinds of blood plasma:
- Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) — Donated plasma obtained from paid donors. (Often referred to as altruistic donations)
- Pooled plasma — Collected from multiple anonymous donors who’ve consented to donation and stored in big pools.
- Cryo-plasma — Harvested from previously frozen plasma at cold temperatures (-18°C to 24°C). Cryo-plasma accounts for roughly 10% of FFP worldwide.
Qualifications for Plasma Donation and What to Expect When Donating
Donating plasma is an important, voluntary act that can help save lives. Like donated blood, your plasma is used in trauma situations in hospitals to help those in need. Plasma helps to stop bleeding during emergency situations.
If you’re thinking about donating plasma, here’s what you need to know.
Is Donating Plasma Safe?
Donating plasma is similar to donating blood. As long as you donate in a certified center, donating plasma is completely safe. If you’re considering donating plasma, the first thing you should do is look for a center that is certified by the International Quality Plasma Program (IQPP). These centers are sterile and staffed by highly-trained professionals. All of the equipment that’s used in the plasma collection process is sterilized and cleaned after use. Any equipment that comes into contact with you as a donor is only used one time to ensure cleanliness and prevent the possibility of transmitting any kind of bloodborne pathogens.
Does donating plasma hurt?
Donating plasma shouldn’t hurt. Donating plasma should feel the same as a regular blood donation. You might feel a stinging sensation when the needle is inserted, but after that, the staff will do its best to make sure that you’re comfortable throughout the donation process.
Am I Qualified to Donate Plasma?
There are different requirements for the various types of blood donations. These requirements are put in place to guarantee your safety and health. In order to donate plasma, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be in good overall health
- Weigh 110 pounds or more (50 kilograms)
- Pass a medical screening
- Test negative for viruses that can be passed through blood, like HIV and hepatitis
- Complete a medical history screening
Some states allow teens ages 16 or older to donate with the permission of a parent.
The ideal blood types for plasma donation are AB positive and AB negative. You can donate plasma every 28 days, no more than 13 times in a year.
There are those in high-risk groups who should not donate blood or plasma. They include people who have:
- Injected drugs or steroids not prescribed by a doctor within the last three months
- Tested positive for HIV
- Had close contact in the last 12 months with someone who had viral hepatitis
- A congenital blood clotting condition
- Babesiosis, a disease from ticks, or Chagas disease (a parasitic infection)
What are the side effects of blood plasma donation?
Although there are more than these two side effects of blood plasma donation, iron and calcium deficiency you’ll experience is the source of most. Your body needs both iron and calcium to function properly. During the plasma donation process, your body will lose its stores of these nutrients. If you don’t replace them, you could become deficient in either or both.
1. Iron deficiency
Iron is a crucial mineral that transports oxygen throughout the body. It also plays a role in energy production and immune function. Without enough iron, you may experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and other health problems. Iron deficiency leads to:
- Hair loss
- Poor appetite
2. Calcium deficiency
Calcium is a mineral that is important for the body to have to stay healthy. It is necessary for strong bones and teeth, nerve and muscle function, blood clotting, and hormone production. Calcium deficiency will lead to:
- Tooth decay
What to do before plasma donation?
Collection of plasma is a safe procedure and, unlike whole blood donation, has no side effects. During plasmapheresis, the red and white blood cells are immediately returned to the donor’s body. The plasma itself, provided proper nutrition, is restored within 24-48 hours. Therefore, a donor can potentially donate blood up to 26 times a year at two-week intervals. A donor who follows the instructions for donating blood and blood components feels good before, during, and after the procedure. Recovery after the donation is fast; many donors shortly return to the plasma centers again.
Begin preparation for donating blood and components with planning the most favorable time for it. Ensure that the donation does not coincide with stressful events like exams, intense training or workload, competitions. A calm and relaxed state makes the whole process much easier. Within 2-3 days, get a good night’s sleep, rest well and avoid stressful situations.
The first half of the day is the best time to donate because, in the morning, the lost components are restored faster. We don’t recommend donating blood and its components after finishing a night shift.
Women should not donate blood when menstruating. Blood composition changes during the menstrual period — the liquid part of plasma decreases, and the time needed for blood coagulation increases. Please don’t plan to visit the plasma center during menstruation and for five days after it ends until the indicators get back to normal.
The key to successful plasma donation is a proper donor diet. Fatty, spicy food is taboo. Everyone who follows a healthy diet knows about it. However, not everyone knows that the consumption of some, at first glance, light and dietary products can make it impossible for you to donate plasma.
How does the donor menu affect the blood condition?
Adherence to the donor’s diet is mandatory. After all, even the slightest violation of dietary recommendations before donating blood leads to severe changes in the quality of blood components.
If the blood contains high levels of fat, after centrifugation, it becomes white and thick like sour cream. It can be caused both by lack of proper nutrition and the following medical conditions:
- impaired metabolism
- diseases of the digestive system
- kidney and liver disease
- blood clotting disorders
- problems in the thyroid gland and lymphatic system
- other serious diseases
Donor’s consumption of prohibited foods may adversely affect the results of the donor blood test. Clinical examinations following bad nutrition may be compromised and show the condition of the donor’s body and blood components inaccurately.
Stop taking aspirin and other analgesics at least 72 hours before donating blood.
What food to avoid before donating blood?
For two days (48 hours) before donating plasma strictly avoid the following products and meals:
- smoked, spicy, fried food
- fatty fish and meat
- spices and seasonings
- marinades and pickles
- any fatty dairy products (including kefir and baby curds)
- nuts, dates, bananas, grapes, citrus fruits, blueberries
- ketchup, mayonnaise, store-bought crackers, and chips
- any alcohol
- energy and sweet store drinks
Instead, drink enough clean water (at least 2 liters per day).
The list of permitted foods is slightly smaller, but it is much more useful and fully satisfies the body’s need for proper nutrition.
Best foods to eat before plasma donation
Your body will lose a good amount of energy and water, and although there are no significant risks associated with plasma donation, you may still feel fatigue or uncomfortable. To overcome this, you need to adjust your diet accordingly. But what are the best foods to eat before blood plasma donation?
1. Whole grains
Whole grains are a good choice for breakfast or lunch before donating blood plasma. A high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal is best, as you’ll feel increased fatigue after donation. Whole grains are a great source of energy and can help you feel fuller longer. Try oatmeal, barley, and brown rice.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein. Protein is essential for maintaining your energy levels, especially if you plan on donating plasma. Another reason to eat nuts and seeds before donating plasma is that they contain essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for your overall health and can help with a smoother process of plasma donation.
Legumes are a good source of protein and fiber. Legumes are one of the good foods to eat before donating plasma, as they can help you feel fuller longer and may help you avoid feeling lightheaded or dizzy after giving blood.
4. Fiber-rich vegetables
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin C, which is important for maintaining a healthy immune system since you’ll be at risk after blood plasma donation. Broccoli is also a low-calorie food, so it won’t cause you to feel bloated or uncomfortable after donating plasma.
5. Chicken breast
Chicken is a good source of protein, and our body needs protein to create new blood cells. Giving plasma can deplete the body’s protein store, so eating chicken beforehand can help make up for that. Also, chicken contains arginine, an amino acid that helps the body produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays an important role in donating plasma, as it helps keep the veins open and allows for a higher flow of blood.
6. Hard-boiled eggs
Eating eggs helps to increase the level of iron in your blood. Low iron levels are typical in people who donate plasma, so eating eggs can help to combat this. Additionally, eggs are a good source of protein, which is essential for helping the body rebuild red blood cells.
7. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are one of the best foods to eat before donating plasma. A good source of vitamin C, citrus fruits combat the fatigue you’ll experience after donating plasma. They can also help prevent nausea, a common side effect of plasma donation.
What Is Considered Healthy Plasma?
There are rigorous screening processes that have been put in place to ensure that only healthy pools of plasma are used for therapeutic purposes. At plasma collection centres, donors must meet certain eligibility requirements and undergo medical examinations before giving plasma. Once their plasma is collected, centre staff check to see whether it’s discoloured or cloudy. Healthy plasma is pale-yellow and clear.
It can take anywhere from seven to twelve months for plasma protein therapies to be manufactured from the time a donation is made to the time it is ready to be given to a patient. After blood plasma leaves the collection centre, samples are tested for indicators of viral infections. Plasma products are then further safeguarded by advanced pathogen reduction processes. Only after this extensive manufacturing process is plasma considered safe to use.
The Dos and Don’ts of Plasma Donation
There are plenty of things you can do to improve the quality of your plasma as a donor. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts you should consider.
- Drinking lots of water the day before and the day of your plasma donation appointment, ideally six to eight cups. The amount of water you drink directly affects how full your vein will be and how your plasma is separated.
- Eat a healthy meal that’s iron and protein-rich within two hours of donating. Iron-rich foods include broccoli, beans, leafy greens, chicken, and turkey. Foods high in protein include nuts, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
- Get a good night’s rest prior to donating. The more rested you are, the smoother and quicker your recovery will be. Your donation will also be more plentiful.
- Drink alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to donating. Alcohol is a diuretic that can cause dehydration and make plasma donation more difficult.
- Drink caffeine, in any form, on the day of your plasma donation appointment. Caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, making finding a vein and returning the non-plasma portions of blood back to the donor more challenging.
- Eat fatty foods like potato chips, pizza, and fries the day of your plasma donation appointment. These foods can negatively impact your blood tests and contribute to cloudy plasma.
- Use tobacco or marijuana for at least eight hours prior to donating. Smoking tobacco before giving plasma can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Smoking marijuana in this time period will lead to at least a one-day deferral.