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Donating plasma or platelets by apheresis

Apheresis. It might sound complicated, but it’s just another word for how we collect your plasma.

How does it work?

While you’re resting in a comfortable chair, a special machine draws blood from your arm. The machine separates the blood out to collect the plasma. 

During your donation, we use an anticoagulant called citrate. Citrate allow us to return your red cells to you through the same needle. While the citrate helps everything go smoothly, it can also cause a temporary drop in the level of calcium and magnesium in your blood during donation. That may cause some donors to experience a metallic taste, tingling around the mouth and tongue, and less often tingling in their hands or feet. 

These effects have no long lasting effect on your health, even if you donate regularly. To reduce the chance of these symptoms, we recommend that:

  • When you arrive, you take the calcium supplement offered by staff.
  • On the day before and on the day of your donation, you include foods which are rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium in your diet. These include some dairy products, fresh fruit, green vegetables, nuts and beans. 

This process is repeated until enough plasma has been collected, which usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour.

Donate more plasma more often

Another great benefit of this process is that you can donate more often if you’d like. The most you can donate is every two weeks, and you can go back to giving whole blood at any time (if you’re eligible).

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