How to Donate Blood Plasma in London and Why It Matters

Many people are familiar with donating blood, but have you heard about plasma donation? Here’s how to do it and why the NHS needs your help.

When I arrived at Twickenham’s plasma donation center, located on the eighth floor of Regal House, I was ready to donate. This center is the only one of its kind in London, and I was there to contribute. Unlike blood, plasma is a translucent orange substance that comprises about 55% of your blood.

The NHS urgently needs more plasma donations to treat various conditions and support medical research. Here’s why and how you can help.

Why Donate Plasma?

Plasma is incredibly valuable. It’s rich in antibodies and can help people with compromised immune systems, trauma, burns, shock, and over 50 other conditions. For instance, plasma treatment saved baby Aurora from Kawasaki disease, and Candi relies on plasma-based medicine to manage a life-threatening immune disorder. Around 17,000 people in England benefit from plasma donations each year.

The Donation Process

Despite my inexperience with blood donation, the friendly staff at the center quickly put me at ease. Here’s what to expect during a plasma donation session:

  1. Vein Check: A simple check to ensure you have a suitable vein.
  2. Health Questionnaire: A nurse will review your health and lifestyle, including your recent travel history and iron levels.
  3. Donation: You’ll sit in a comfortable, reclining chair. A needle painlessly draws blood, which passes through a plasmapheresis machine that separates the plasma and returns the red blood cells to your body. The process takes about 40 minutes.
  4. Recovery: After the donation, you’ll enjoy snacks to restore your sugar and salt levels, and the nurses will ensure you feel well before you leave.

Donating plasma is less taxing on your body than donating blood because your red blood cells are returned to you. Consequently, you can donate plasma more frequently than blood.

Booking a Donation

It’s easy to book a plasma donation. Visit the NHS website and fill in your details. Currently, the Twickenham center is the only one in London, but you can also donate at centers in Reading (accessible via the Elizabeth line) and Birmingham. Be sure to follow the NHS guidelines about eating and drinking before your visit.

Final Thoughts

Donating plasma is a simple, pain-free way to make a significant impact. If you’ve ever thought about donating but haven’t yet, now is the perfect time to start. Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll also get to enjoy a great view if you donate at Twickenham.

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