Plasma is the liquid portion of blood; our red and white blood cells and platelets are suspended in plasma as they move throughout our bodies.
- Color: Yellowish
- Shelf Life: 1 year
- Storage Conditions: Frozen
- Key Uses: Burn patients, Shock, Bleeding disorders
Plasma serves several important functions in our bodies, despite being about 92% water. (Plasma also contains 7% vital proteins such as albumin, gamma globulin and anti-hemophilic factor, and 1% mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones and vitamins.) It helps us maintain a satisfactory blood pressure and volume, and supplies critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. It also carries electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to our muscles and helps to maintain a proper pH (acid-base) balance in the body, which is critical to cell function.
Plasma is obtained by separating the liquid portion of blood from the cells. Plasma is frozen within 24 hours of being donated in order to preserve the valuable clotting factors. It is then stored for up to one year, and thawed when needed.
Plasma is commonly transfused to trauma, burn and shock patients, as well as people with severe liver disease or multiple clotting factor deficiencies.
In some cases, patients need plasma derivatives instead. These are concentrates of specific plasma proteins obtained through a process known as fractionation. The derivatives are treated with heat and/or solvent detergent to kill certain viruses like those that cause HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Plasma derivatives include:
- Factor VIII Concentrate
- Factor IX Concentrate
- Anti-Inhibitor Coagulation Complex (AICC)
- Immune Globulins, including Rh Immune Globulin
- Anti-Thrombin III Concentrate
- Alpha 1-Proteinase Inhibitor Concentrate
Donating AB Plasma
When collecting specifically plasma, the Red Cross is seeking AB-type donors. AB plasma is collected at select Red Cross Donation Centers only.
Learn more about donating AB plasma »