November 19, 2023

Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma?

Plasma is the fluid that carries blood through your body. It contains both ions and electrons, and is a medium for many complex processes in the body. Plasma is also the medium for controlled thermonuclear fusion, which is the ultimate goal of contemporary science — producing immense but manageable bursts of clean energy in a reactor that is 10 times hotter than the center of the Sun.

Plasma centers adhere to strict screening protocols to safeguard donor health and safety. Donors undergo an initial phone and face-to-face interview, medical history review, physical examination, and a series of tests for infectious diseases on their first visit. They are screened again each time they donate plasma.

During a donation, the phlebotomist inserts a needle into a vein in your arm. Then, plastic tubing connects that needle to a white machine the size of a case of beer.

Robert is a regular plasma donor who has been coming to this place in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for years. He’s a father of four and a construction worker. But he says the coronavirus pandemic has cut his income.

He’s not the only one. The CDC says plasma donations dropped by 40% during the pandemic, and some plasma collection companies have had to shut down altogether. One reason is the federal money that started pouring in to help people afford basic needs. Another is that the plasma industry doesn’t pay donors, a policy some say is unethical.


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