Five ways your plasma helps patients

May 19, 2023
Plasma donor in a bed at a Canadian Blood Services plasma donor centre

For many, medications made from this blood component are lifesaving

Did you know that even though your blood is red, it’s mostly composed of a straw-coloured component called plasma? This “liquid gold” has a special place in Canada’s blood system. 

We collect plasma from both blood donations and plasma donations. When you donate blood, your donation is separated afterward into the different components (red blood cells, platelets and plasma) for different patient uses. When you donate plasma, your blood gets separated as it’s donated, so we can collect only plasma (and return the rest of your blood to you as you relax in a comfortable bed).  

Medical laboratory technologist holding a blood donation with different components visible.
Plasma is the straw-coloured component of blood that makes up most of its volume. We collect plasma from blood donations by separating the blood into components, but we also welcome people to donate plasma by itself at our growing number of plasma donor centres.

Plasma donors can give more plasma per visit and also donate more frequently than blood donors. That’s because your plasma supply replenishes faster than the other components of your blood — typically within days.  

Some of the plasma we collect is delivered to hospitals for transfusions. But we send most of it — including all the plasma collected at our dedicated plasma donor centres — to manufacturers. They use it to make lifesaving medications for patients in Canada.  

Plasma donation bag

Am I eligible to donate plasma?

If you’re able to donate blood, it’s likely you can donate plasma. And even if you can’t donate blood, you may be able to donate plasma. Take our two-minute online quiz to find out if you may be eligible. At the end of the quiz, you can find blood and plasma donation opportunities near you, or other ways you can help save lives. 


As a donor, you don’t just make a difference, you make all the difference. Here are just a few of the ways your plasma can help others.

1. Plasma can help people thrive with severe immunodeficiency  

Some people are born with conditions that prevent them from fighting off illness. Immunoglobulins, which are made from plasma, may be the only treatment, essential to their survival.  

Cayleigh Kearns was ill constantly as a child and teen before eventually being diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency (CVID). Immunoglobulins made all the difference. And like others with such rare genetic disorders, Cayleigh expects to need them her whole life. 

“There’s no comparison to how I felt,” she says. “I just felt a thousand times better.” 

2. Plasma can prevent death and disability from Guillain‒Barré syndrome (GBS) 

This condition, which affects approximately one in 100,000 people, causes the immune system to attack nerve cells. Jeff Brown of Capreol, Ont., was one of them. His GBS symptoms seemed to come out of nowhere, and within just a few days, he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Without immunoglobulins, medications made from plasma, Jeff could have been permanently disabled. Instead he went on to recover fully. He’s even become a plasma donor himself. 

3. Plasma can be used to treat life-threatening blood disorders  

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a disorder which leads to abnormally low levels of blood cells called platelets, putting the patient at risk of severe bleeding. For treatment, Christina Moreau of St. Catharines, Ont., relied on a medication made from plasma for years. And she knows she may need it again in the future.

“I have so much passion and so many dreams. Because of plasma donations I’ve been able to say ‘Nope! Sorry illness. You’re not going to get me. I’m going to persevere,’” says Christina. 

4. Plasma helps patients battle rare neurological conditions 

As a young child, Jayden Liuzza spent weeks in hospital with frightening symptoms before being diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. It’s a condition where the immune system attacks certain receptors in the brain.  

“At this point, she was just a shell, lying in bed. We wondered if she even knew we were there,” recalls Jayden’s mother, Cheryl.  

Treatment of the illness frequently involves medication made from donated plasma. Jayden received immunoglobulin infusions every month for nine months, in addition to intensive therapy at a rehabilitation hospital.  

Now a teenager, Jayden is fully recovered. She has gone on to compete in dance and serve as an ambassador for charitable organizations that supported her through her illness and treatment. In September 2022, she and her parents hosted a group donation event at our plasma donor centre in Brampton, Ont., where they personally thanked donors for their lifesaving efforts. 

5. Plasma supports patients through cancer treatment and organ transplants 

Aggressive medical treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, can have severe side effects. That can include temporary immunodeficiency, which puts the patient at risk of life-threatening infections. For some, immunoglobulins from plasma deliver an essential boost to the immune system. 

People receiving organ transplants may also receive immunoglobulins to support their recovery. 

Ready to make all the difference with plasma? Book now to give plasma donation a try. Together, we are Canada’s Lifeline. 

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