The average adult human body con­tains about 12 pints of blood. One of the products found in human blood, a protein-rich substance known as plasma, is more valuable than most people believe it to be.

     Biolife Plasma Services in Tyler col­lects high quality plasma donations from volunteer donors that are processed into life-saving therapies.

     “Human plasma donations are ex­tremely beneficial to patients who lack the ability to make their own,” Dr. Glenn Rout­houska, a family physician, said.

     Plasma is a pale yellow liquid that consists mainly of water and proteins. It controls bleeding and helps fight infection. Blood cells float around in it waiting for dis­tribution throughout the body. In a healthy person, the body easily replaces plasma if it has been lost or in this case, donated.

     “Plasma cannot be artificially made or produced in some laboratory,” said a Biolife representative, who wished to remain anon­ymous. “It can only be obtained from living, breathing, healthy adults.”

     When plasma is donated, it is used for a number of different medical treatments that benefit thousands of people daily.

     According to the Biolife Plasma Ser­vices website, it is used in the treatment of serious disorders such as hemophilia and immune system deficiencies. It is also used to make products that help treat and pre­vent diseases such as tetanus, rabies, measles, hepatitis B and rubella.

      “Donating plasma is a safe procedure. It is low-risk, usually with minimal or no side ef­fects. The most common side effect is feeling weak or dizzy after donating. This can be fixed by eating a healthy meal and drinking water,” said Dr. Routhouska.

     Hospitals and emergency rooms around the world use plasma-derived products to treat patients with traumatic injuries such as shock and severe burns.

     “I really cannot stress how important these donations are. Without them, many patients would have died due to severe blood loss and dehydration,” said Dr. Routhouska.

     There are some requirements that must be met before a person can donate their plasma. To be eligible, a prospective donor must be at least 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and have no illegal drugs present in their body. A recent piercing or tattoo may also affect eligibility.

     “Donors must pass a thorough medical ex­amination and answer a survey about their own medical history. Vital signs will also be taken,” said Dr. Routhouska. “As a donor, not only are you helping your community, you receive a free physical exam as well.”

     Every plasma donation that is received is screened for viral infections including hepatitis and HIV. Periodic tests are also administered on donors to check for infections including syphilis.

     “The FDA takes plasma donations very seriously. Plasma donation centers must follow strict regulations to ensure donor safety as well as the safety of patients receiving plasma prod­ucts,” said Dr. Routhouska.

     Donating plasma is a personal choice, but one that comes with both instant and long-lasting results. Compensation is made for the plasma received from each donor. It has become popular in recent years, probably due to the eco­nomic crisis the U.S. has been experiencing. Not only do the donors make a profit each time they donate, their plasma is also used to help others in their community and around the world. For students, this appears to be the selling point.

     “I have never donated plasma before,” said Tyler Junior College student Nova Esparza. “But knowing that I can make a profit from it and help save lives, it sounds like something I would actually be willing to do.”

     The Biolife Plasma Services in Tyler is lo­cated at 1827 W. Gentry Parkway. Their num­ber is 903-592-1144. They also have locations in Denton, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Austin, as well as in 21 other states. Visit biolifeplasma.com or donatingplasma.org for more information.

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