PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Donating plasma can be life-saving to those with rare and serious diseases, including COVID-19, but BPL Plasma in Pharr said they are currently experiencing a plasma shortage.
For any donation center, donors must be at least 18 years old, weigh 110 pounds, and be in “generally good health.”
For BPL and CSL Plasma centers across the country, donors will have to go through a health questionnaire and screening. Once everything checks out, they will be seen by one of the center’s doctors for a full analysis.
Dr. Jennifer Hanes, CSL Plasma Division Medical Director said the procedure for plasma donation is similar to drawing blood in that you are injected with a needle, and the plasma is then extracted from your body.
However, with blood donation, it takes the body eight weeks to replenish those red blood cells, whereas, with plasma, the plasmapheresis machine separates the plasma from the blood cells, returning the cells back to the host.
Although deemed an easy process by Pharr’s Center Manager for BPL Plasma, Miriam Rios they are experiencing such a shortage they are now having to wait list patients.
Rios gave an example of a patient who normally receives his shot of plasma every month, but is now having to wait 45 days in between in each one.
Plasma cannot be created in a lab, it is only available organically through donation.
Rios added because of this, centers like BPL are willing to compensate donors for their time and plasma.
In the U.S., you are allowed to donate up to twice per week.
If you donate plasma right now to BPL in Pharr, you will receive $100 per donation for the first 8 times.
For CSL, you can receive up to $800 a month for donations, but it may vary depending on the location and donor weight.
Plasma donation has been proven to increase improvement in patients with hemophilia, immunodeficiencies, and even cancer.
“I’m actually a cancer survivor and during my treatments I received chemotherapy, so my immune system was very low,” explained Rios. “I had to be treated with immunoglobulins like that it can boost my immune system.”
Plasma cannot cure diseases, but it helps patients live a more sustainable life, according to Rios.
Seeing what plasma donation has done for her patients and for herself, Rios is proud to work for BPL.
There are thousands of patients in need of plasma, even in the Rio Grande Valley, so both Rios and Dr. Hanes ask that everyone consider donating.