Can You Donate Plasma While Pregnant (And Is It Safe)?

Plasma donation can be seen as an essential part of life for those involved in its processes. For some, donating plasma can help them feel they have made a valuable contribution to society by providing life-saving plasma to those in desperate need. For others, the plasma they receive from others can lead to life-changing vaccinations and therapies for chronic diseases. Many pregnant women have taken part in plasma donation as well.

Are you wondering if you can donate plasma while pregnant? Although you may have many valid reasons for wanting to donate plasma during your pregnancy, it is best to hold off until your doctor says it’s safe.

Here are some reasons why plasma is essential and why it’s best to wait until it’s safe for you to donate.

Table of Contents

What is Plasma?

Plasma is critical to your body’s functions and is essential for optimal health. It is a crucial component that serves as a  building block for your blood. The other parts of your blood include white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. 

What Role Does Plasma Play?

The role that blood plasma plays can often go overlooked. Nonetheless, it is crucial to maintain many bodily functions.

For instance, blood plasma contains many nutrients to help your body fight off infections. The blood plasma also helps your body with

  • Maintaining optimal PH levels
  • Coagulation (Blood clotting)
  • Moving nutrients throughout the bloodstream
  • Regulating body temperature

Why do some people need plasma donations?

Although plasma is essential to healthy living, some people struggle to make it.

Traumatic injuries or chronic illnesses can compromise people’s ability to produce enough plasma in their blood.

Some people rely on plasma donations because they are an essential ingredient in medications that treat many chronic conditions. Some of which include

  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Hemophilia
  • And liver disease

In contrast, some people need to donate plasma to generate additional income. After an initial session, the complete process of donating plasma takes a little more than an hour, allowing donors to resume their normal activities after a short observation period.

How much a donor can earn depends on their location, the donation center they visit, and how often they donate. The average amount a plasma donor can make comes out to between $30 and $50 a session. 

Also, some centers run special promotions that can add an extra incentive for donors to come in more frequently. Some incentives can include

  • Monthly Bonuses
  • Entrance into raffles for prizes
  • Awards for high donation rates
  • Large payouts to first-time donors
  • Referral bonuses

The available incentives and average earnings vary between donation centers as many have specific pay scales to compensate donors.

Dangers of Pregnancy and Plasma Donation

For some people, donating plasma can be an emotionally rewarding experience, and a great way to bring in some extra money. Earning money to prepare for a new baby can be stressful for new moms.  Sometimes additional money can be hard to come by without a strenuous job.

 Although donating plasma can be an easy way to get a little extra money, it could affect the recipient of your plasma. Sometimes, a reaction called TRALI (Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury) can be fatal to those who receive plasma donations. 

Although TRALI is extremely rare, it can come from human leukocyte antigens (HLA) antibodies that sometimes form during pregnancy. A fetus gets its HLA from both parents; sometimes, the mother’s body will make antibodies against the father’s HLA. This interaction generally doesn’t harm anyone except in the cases of plasma donation and transfusion.

Sometimes, the plasma of pregnant women contains HLA antibodies in it. If someone is exposed to these antibodies during a transfusion, they can interact with the HLA in the recipient’s lungs and cause TRALI.

For these reasons, many donation centers do not allow pregnant women to donate their plasma as there is a remote chance that it could harm recipients.

Symptoms of TRALI

Although TRALI is rare and does not affect pregnant donors, it is a life-threatening complication for donation recipients that can come from a plasma transfusion. The symptoms of TRALI can be rapid as they often manifest within 6 hours of a transfusion. Symptoms quickly turn deadly if not treated immediately.

Symptoms may include TRALI may include

  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hypoxia
  • Fever

Can Plasma Donation Hurt the Baby?

While you may be eager to find simple ways to generate income, you may need to wait a while before resuming plasma donation. For instance, some experts believe that donating plasma exposes pregnant mothers to a higher risk of anemia. 

Those with this condition don’t have enough red blood cells to move nutrients throughout their body. Anemia can be concerning during pregnancy as nutrients are essential to maintaining the health of the mother and the baby. But it’s worth noting that not much evidence supports these claims.

Also, there is not much research to suggest that plasma donation is dangerous to a fetus, but it may be best to err on the side of caution to avoid unknown risks.

When to Start Donating Again

Your ability to resume plasma donation depends on your health, recovery from childbirth, and your doctor’s advice. Some doctors recommend that you wait until six weeks postpartum before attempting plasma donation. Other doctors recommend waiting nine months or more before starting plasma donation again.

Also, plasma donation can dehydrate nursing mothers, making breastfeeding a challenge.

When you resume donating again, the donation center may screen you for HLA antibodies upon  arrival.

The Final Word

Donating plasma can be a helpful tool to bring in extra income. The idea may sound nice, but it may not be the best idea for pregnant women to donate plasma. Although plasma donation is not known to cause complications for mothers and babies, donating while pregnant can threaten recipients. 

Donating plasma during pregnancy should be approached with caution, and resuming the activity requires expert medical advice to ensure a safe experience.

But once you make it past the waiting period, donating plasma is a fantastic tool to help save many lives and compensate those who make the sacrifice.

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