Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma?

Many times, when donating plasma, the trained health personnel will check the inside of your elbow to draw blood. At times, he or she may draw blood at the back of your hands.

But before this happens, a finger prick test will be conducted to ascertain the quantity of hemoglobin or protein in your blood. This is known as the “hemoglobin test.” This test is important to find out whether you have enough red blood cells. If you do not have an adequate level of red blood cells, then you are anemic. This test is performed every time you intend to donate plasma.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising depletion of blood bank reserves in the US, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) proposed an amendment to the existing guidelines. As a result of this, the deferral time has been shortened from 12 months to 3 months for the set of individuals:

  • Males who have had sex with males (MSM)
  • Females who have had sex with MSM
  • Those who have had fresh piercings or tattoos
  • Those who have traveled to regions where malaria is prevalent

Furthermore, people susceptible to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or have someone in their family weren’t able to make a blood donation. But now, FDA proposes this set of individuals who were ineligible can now reapply.

According to a former Phlebotomist, another reason your elbow will be checked while donating plasma is for signs of intravenous (IV) drug use. Your elbows will be looked at for any sores or wounds, or rashes.

Blood Plasma Donation

Plasma Donation

Plasma donation is simply the process of collecting blood to obtain plasma and transfer the rest of the blood to the blood via plasmapheresis, the separation of blood cells from the rest of plasma. It is important to note that plasma donation takes a bit longer than donating whole blood. However, the more you donate, the more quantity of blood plasma you generate.

People with AB blood type possess a universal plasma type, which implies that everyone can get this plasma without issue. This means patients in critical situations can get their plasma right away, which can save their lives.

If your blood type is AB, when you donate plasma, a particular component of your blood is utilized in the medical treatment of patients in critical situations. As earlier stated, AS plasma is universally accepted by everyone, no matter their blood type. Plasma is extracted via a machine that divides plasma from other blood elements, then smoothly and freely transports back your red blood cells and platelets to you.

Who can donate plasma?

If you want to donate plasma, you have to be 18 years of age and weigh no less than 50 kg or 110 pounds. You have to undergo and satisfy two medical tests, a medical history assessment and an examination for infectious viruses before you are allowed to donate plasma for blood therapies. Plasma donation is conducted in health facilities.

Who it assists:

AB plasma is highly valuable in health emergencies and life-threatening situations to reduce bleeding.

Time required:

An estimated 75 minutes.

Suitable blood types:

AB +, AB –

How often can I donate blood plasma:

Once every 28 days, no more than 13 times a year.

55% of your blood comprises plasma. It plays an important role in the body, which includes expelling waste products. Plasma is made up of 92% water. With this water, it occupies the blood vessels, which helps in the transportation of blood and other essential nutrients in the circulatory system.

The rest of the 8% of plasma is made up of other important materials like:

  • proteins
  • immunoglobulins
  • electrolytes

When blood is broken down into its main components, such as plasma and red blood cells, plasma has an appearance than resembles a yellow fluid. A major importance of plasma is to transport hormones, proteins and nutrients around the different body parts that require them. It also carries waste products from cells and helps in the elimination of waste from the body. Blood plasma also transports the different elements of blood via your circulatory organs.

Why you shouldn’t donate plasma

  • Dehydration
  • drowsiness fainting, and feeling lightheaded
  • Tiredness
  • Bruising and pain
  • Citrate reaction
  • Arterial puncture

Has anyone died from donating plasma

While plasma donation generally seems safe, there are cases of deaths over the years

long-term side effects of donating plasma regularly

There is a possibility of low immunoglobulin levels since it takes a while for the levels to get back to normal. Those who donate often and over time might be susceptible for anemia resulting from reductions in red cells during donation

Next day side effects of donating plasma

For most individuals, donating plasma doesn’t result in any side effects, but certain donors may feel fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or dehydration. Furthermore, you might become faint or lightheaded. Although not common, fainting can also take place.

What do they test for when you donate plasma?

All donors have to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C at every donation via nucleic amplified testing (NAT), a cutting-edge technique that checks for the DNA particles of the virus that causes these illnesses. In addition, each plasma donation undergoes testing for antibodies that the body yields when exposed to a virus.

Plasma donation weight chart

Donor weight Plasma volume or weight Collection volume

110–149 lbs (50.0–67.7 kg) 625 mL (640 g) 690 mL (705 g)
150–174 lbs (68.2–79.1 kg) 750 mL (770 g) 825 mL (845 g)
175 lbs and up (79.5 kg) 800 mL (820 g) 880 mL (900 g)


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