Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new eligibility rules for blood and blood product donation to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV. This proposal highlights the restrictions on plasma and blood donation and the impact they can have on the plasma supply. While plasma donation is crucial for those who rely on plasma-derived therapies, certain eligibility requirements must be met to ensure the safety of plasma donors and recipients. Some eligibility restrictions that make donors ineligible to donate may not be obvious, so it is essential to understand them.
Chronic IllnessIf you have been diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness like high blood pressure, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, or primary immunodeficiency (PI), you are ineligible to donate plasma. While those with epilepsy can donate if they have been seizure-free for a certain period, those with PI or hemophilia rely on plasma-derived therapies to maintain their health and do not produce enough plasma to donate. Individuals with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or other chronic infectious diseases can spread viruses or microorganisms through blood components, including plasma.
Feeling SickIf you have a cold, flu, or any illness, including COVID-19, you will be temporarily deferred from donating plasma. In fact, it is better to donate after recovering from an illness as this provides convalescent plasma, which is rich in antibodies.
TattoosIf you have gotten a tattoo in the last 3-6 months, you may be ineligible to donate plasma. The deferment time can vary among donation centers, but donors typically must wait until the tattoo is fully healed before donating. This is because needles, especially unclean ones, can carry several bloodborne illnesses that cannot be detected immediately after infection. The FDA updated its recommendation in 2020, reducing the deferral period to three months from one year.
Age LimitThe age limit to donate plasma is 18, and for many plasma centers, anyone older than 64 may also be ineligible. Although there is no true maximum age limit for donating plasma, those who are 64 and older are more likely to be denied or deferred from donating. This is because as we age, our plasma production decreases, making it unsafe to donate.
TransplantsThose who have received an organ/tissue transplant from another human will be unable to donate for up to three months. Certain transplants, like dura mater, animal organs, or living animal tissue, can permanently disqualify you from donating. If you undergo a bone marrow transplant, you are considered immunocompromised for 6 months to one year after the transplant, making it unlikely for you to donate plasma.
MedicationsCertain medications will disqualify or defer you from donating plasma. Some daily medications for serious medical conditions like blood thinners, immune suppressants, acne treatment, or hair loss prevention can prevent you from donating plasma. Each plasma center has a list of medications that can disqualify donors and for how long they can be deferred. You must contact your local plasma center for more information.
History of AnemiaIf you have a history of anemia, you will be unable to donate plasma, much like blood donation. Anemia is a condition where a person lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues. Female donors must have a hemoglobin level of at least 12.5g/dL, and male donors are required to have a minimum level of 13.0g/dL to donate.
In conclusion, it is crucial to understand the restrictions on plasma donation to ensure the safety of both donors and recipients. Those who rely on plasma-derived therapies depend on the plasma supply, making it essential for eligible donors to donate. If you have any questions about eligibility