Q:

What is plasma used for?

A:

Plasma, a component of human blood, is used to treat people suffering from medical emergencies. Injuries sustained from accidents, such as burns, trauma and shock, are treated with plasma. It is also used to treat chronic conditions like hemophilia and some autoimmune disorders.

Plasma constitutes about 55 percent of the makeup of blood, which also includes enzymes and salts. Plasma carries hormones, proteins and nutrients throughout the body as needed and removes waste products. It also helps other needed elements move through the body. It consists of mostly water, electrolytes, hormones, proteins and carbon dioxide. It provides reserve protein for the body, protects against infections and keeps electrolytes balanced.

Because of the importance of plasma to people suffering from various medical conditions, blood drives are held frequently to encourage plasma donation. Potential donors are screened prior to donation for any problems with their blood. A donation takes about 90 minutes and involves a needle being placed in a vein in the arm. A machine separates the blood, and the unneeded red blood cells are returned to the body along with a salt solution. People who have the blood type AB are most needed as plasma donors because their blood can be given to people of any blood type.

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