By Emma Saddoris
DMACC Nursing Honors Student
There are thousands of people in the United States living with disorders and deficiencies that require plasma transfusions to help manage and treat their medical needs. Plasma is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold” because it is of such a high worth and shortage. I believe donating plasma is an ideal form of a practical financial and emotional relief for college students. For students like myself attending DMACC in Boone, and the thousands of other students attending Iowa State, we lucked out and have BioLife right in our reach in Ames.
Whether one is working or unemployed for the school year, donating plasma helps earn money. Donating doubles its benefit by emotionally knowing the contribution one is making to help provide life-saving therapeutics to patients every day. Stroke, blood loss, and trauma are acute medical conditions that can also be treated with plasma. There are more than 80 primary immune deficiency disorders that affect approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. The five main infusions of plasma are used for hemophilia infusions, blood loss replacement, immune support, pulmonology deficiency infusion, and surgical hemostasis and tissue healing.
BioLife Plasma Services openly states and advertises “Donating plasma is a low risk procedure with minimal or no side effects”. They follow a strict protocol of guidelines to ensure the safety of their donors and receivers. BioLife prevents donors from getting infections by using a sterile procedure, equipment, and disposable materials. After each donation, the equipment is disposed and replaced with new equipment. The recipient of the plasma is protected because BioLife sends their samples of plasma to their lab, where it is screened for viruses such as hepatitis and HIV.
Many of us have given blood before, maybe at a community blood drive or a special event on campus. Donating plasma is similar with the difference being what it’s used for. When asked how a plasma center can affect the community blood supply, BioLife stated “It can often enhance a community’s whole blood donations if BioLife comes to a new location. The general awareness of the need for blood and plasma donations is increased through BioLife’s marketing efforts” and in this case, me. As a nursing student here at DMACC, I’ve realized I find myself feeling responsible to promote and draw awareness to these simple measures people can do and the effect they can have on our community, and the world’s population. As a college student, I have personally enjoyed the “good deed” being checked off my list for the day. As a waitress, I’ve had other younger students pay for their meal with their BioLife card, and this makes me smile. Donating plasma can be that good deed for you. The process is like giving blood, which I have done before. A needle and catheter is used to draw the blood out, and then the sample is sent to the lab to be separated. Once separated, each component from the blood can be used for different purposes.
It takes more than 1,200 plasma donations to treat one patient with hemophilia. It takes more than 130 plasma donations to treat one patient with a primary immune deficiency. College students may not feel the need to donate plasma because they don’t have hemophilia or a primary immune deficiency. What I don’t want them to forget, it that plasma can help treat burns, shock, trauma, animal bites, organ transplants, major surgeries, and hepatitis. No one is promised to not come across one of those situations. If we, my fellow college classmates, start contributing now, I can guarantee we won’t feel the guilt and have regrets once we find ourselves in one of the instances found above. Do it for your future self, and for the others who need the plasma right now.
To sum it all up, there is no reason to not donate plasma. Donating plasma earns money, provides citizens with an opportunity to conquer a fear of needles, requires only a couple hours a week, and successfully accomplishes one’s “good deed” of the day. Let’s take advantage of our community resource that enables us to literally SAVE LIVES with our simple donations!
Emma Saddoris is from Jefferson, Iowa. She is a nursing student at DMACC/Boone who plans to graduate in May and continue her education at the University of Iowa. She hopes to be a travel nurse one day.