May 31, 2024

Can Bariatric Patients Donate Plasma?

Woman giving plasma

Donating plasma or blood is a generous act that will benefit people who need these life-giving fluids. But can you donate if you’ve had bariatric surgery?

This article provides background on blood and plasma donation and then answers that important question.

What’s the Difference Between Blood and Plasma Donation?

Plasma is a component of blood. This yellowish fluid makes up approximately 55% of your blood volume. It’s rich in proteins such as antibodies, albumin, and clotting factors vital to various medical treatments and procedures. However, it doesn’t contain red or white blood cells or platelets.

When you give blood, everything removed from your body is kept and utilized by the organization you donated to. Plasma donation is different. In that process, blood is drawn from your arm into a machine that separates the plasma from the other blood components, which are then returned to your body. While blood donation takes around 10 minutes, plasma donation typically takes 45 minutes to an hour.

Considerations for Blood or Plasma Donations After Bariatric Surgery

Most of the iron in your body is in red blood cells in a substance called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin enables the transport and distribution of oxygen throughout the body.

When you donate blood, the process removes a significant amount of iron from your body. For healthy people who haven’t had surgery recently, that’s no problem. However, around 35% of bariatric patients become iron-deficient (anemic) within two years of surgery. That’s primarily because bariatric surgeries change the digestive tract, reducing its ability to absorb iron from food.

Consequently, doctors advise bariatric patients not to donate blood in the first few months after surgery. They even encourage patients to get their hemoglobin levels checked if they choose to donate blood later.

Because plasma donation doesn’t involve removing red blood cells from the body, it poses no risk of causing or worsening anemia. If you have recovered from your procedure, are back to normal activities, and haven’t been told by your care team not to donate plasma, you can do so.

General Requirements for Plasma Donation

Anyone looking to donate plasma must meet specific requirements. For example, your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure must be within normal limits. If any of those health indicators are too high or low, you may be asked to try again another day. Likewise, you won’t be able to donate if you’re visibly sick.

People who have gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months may be required to defer their donation for at least six months due to the risk of infection from those processes. Also, anyone who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not be able to donate since their condition might compromise their ability to give informed consent for the procedure.

Donation centers may have other requirements and restrictions, so it’s a good idea to contact them or review information on their website before attempting to donate.

Talk with Your Doctor About Donating Plasma After Bariatric Surgery

Donating plasma is a wonderfully kind and selfless act. However, it’s essential to be in good health before you donate.

Your Baptist Health bariatric care team is an excellent source of information on plasma donation following bariatric surgery. They’re very familiar with your health and can help you know when it will be safe for you to donate. Don’t hesitate to contact them if you have questions.

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