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Plasma Donation Tips and Tricks

Updated on April 11, 2017
camarochix72 profile image

I’ve been a regular plasma donor for more than five years. Here are some helpful hints I've learned over that time.

Simple Tips and Tricks for Easier Donation

So, you’ve decided to donate plasma. Good for you! Your donation is very important, and the people who receive your plasma, although you don’t hear directly from them, are very thankful. You’re doing a wonderful thing.

However, you’re having some trouble during the donation process. Maybe you’ve been told that your plasma is “cloudy." Or perhaps you’ve noticed someone else, who is donating the same volume as you, is finishing their donation a lot more quickly than you. Why is this happening? Well, after 5 years of donating plasma, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m here to share my knowledge of the most common donation issues I've experience and/or seen.

Cloudy Plasma

If you’ve been told that your plasma is “cloudy” it could be because you’re eating foods that are fatty. Did you eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger before you went in for your donation? Although the meat in your burger may be providing the protein and iron your body needs for a good donation, you’ll also be consuming a high level of grease, making your plasma appear cloudy. I’ve actually seen a donor who has clogged up the plasmapheresis machine because their plasma is so thick due to a diet like this. Eating leaner meats and avoiding greasy foods before your donation will help clear this up considerably.

Long Donation Times

If you’re noticing that your donation time seems to be considerably longer than others around you, it may be due to dehydration. If you’re not drinking enough water throughout your day, it’s going to make your blood “thicker." When this happens, there is less plasma (the liquid part of your blood) that can be extracted during each donation cycle. This means you’ll have to sit through more cycles in order to extract the pre-determined amount of plasma. So, you’ve heard it since grade school… don’t forget to drink your water!

Your donation time may also be longer than others, if you aren’t opening and closing your hand during the extraction cycle. Opening and closing your hand aids in the flow of blood through your veins. I prefer to use a “squeezy ball” or stress ball during my donation.

Vibrating or Tickling in the Arm During Donation

If you’ve ever experienced this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This happens when the needle is resting on the side of your vein (on the inside). This can be easily fixed by having the Phlebotomist either adjust the rate at which the blood is being extracted from your body, or by adjusting the position of the needle in your arm.

Faint or Dizzy Feeling

I’ve never experienced this, personally, but I’ve seen a hand full of people who have. This is very common in people who haven’t eaten well enough before their scheduled donation. If you’ve donated blood, it’s the same idea. It can also be common for those whose hematocrit levels just meet the minimum requirements. If you’ve ever been diagnosed as having anemia, or borderline anemia (which I am), this can also make you feel a little dizzy after your donation (similar to standing up too fast). Be sure to sit up on the edge of the donation bed slowly, make sure you’re okay, before exiting the donor floor.

Once you leave the donation center, you may need to eat a small snack to help relieve any dizzy feelings you may still feel. This usually passes quickly, but if you’ve noticed this happening, keeping a snack on hand to eat immediately after your donation will help. And be sure to eat your iron-rich foods!

Bleeding at the Puncture Site

Remember, after your donation, the site of your needle stick will be covered with a gauze bandage and wrapped to hold the gauze in place. This bandage should be left on for 1-2 hours to ensure that the puncture site has formed a clot and any bleeding has stopped. I’ve actually had times when I’ve had to pull the gauze bandage off very slowly to prevent the newly formed scab from being pulled off with the bandage. If your puncture site does start to bleed, either you didn’t leave the bandage on long enough, or the puncture hole has been re-opened. You’ll want to re-bandage your arm with new gauze and leave it on as long as it takes for the new scab to form and all bleeding to stop.

Pain at the Puncture Site

If you experience any pain in your arm during your donation, let the Phlebotomist know immediately. This can usually be fixed by having them reposition the needle within the vein. However, a sharp, strong pain may be an indication that the vein being used for your donation has “blown” or broken open. In the 5 years I’ve donated plasma, this has happened to me one time. If it happens, you’ll know. Although, not common, it does happen.

I hope these little bits have helped you understand, and correct, some of the issues that arise during your plasma donation.

If you're having problems with low hematocrit or protein numbers, you can read the article I wrote about this particular problem.

Again, happy donating!

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    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 weeks ago from USA

      Dee,

      It could be caused by the build-up of scar tissue restricting the flow within the vein. I had the same issue in one of my arms, donations started taking longer and longer, so I stuck to just one arm for the remainder of my time donating.

    • profile image

      Dee 3 weeks ago

      I been donating for a few years and the main arm I use is my right but now it's saying that it I have no flow on that. What does no flow really mean or so did they mess up my vein

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 3 weeks ago from USA

      Amanda,

      Part of the burning (warm) sensation when they insert the needle, could be from the cleaning iodine not being dried enough. The pain in the stick site from the removing the needle could be from the needle brushing up against the scar tissue that's starting to form. I've actually had a needle "catch" on the scar tissue on the way out, and it wasn't pleasant. There is a possibility of hitting a nerve during the stick, but in my experience and seeing others, this would cause more pain throughout the entire donation, not just the initial stick or removal of the needle.

    • profile image

      Amanda 3 weeks ago

      I have been donating for about a month and the last two times I donated I had more discomfort than usual when they removed the needle. This is only my right arm, I have no discomfort in left arm when removing the needle. It's a sharp stinging feeling. Once the needle is out pain starts to fade. There is no pain while needle is in. What is that? I used my right arm three times with no issues b4 the needle removal pain started. Also the last time I went there was a warming sensation in the same arm after they put needle in. What is that? It also faded quickly.

      Unfortunately it's so easy to get deferred people are afraid to ask them. And my right elbow feels bruised, but can't say for sure if I hit it on something. Could all of this be related? Help!

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 6 weeks ago from USA

      Karina,

      I've never heard of a donation causing a reaction like this. This would be warrant a call to the donation center's nurse.

    • profile image

      Karina 7 weeks ago

      Hello, I went to donate plasma for the first time yesterday. Everything went right. This morning I noticed that my eyes are swollen, with a puffy appearance. What could be the cause?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 7 weeks ago from USA

      AKeeney,

      So sorry you're having this much trouble donating. I've never been denied because of a vein, if one didn't work well, they always just used the other arm. Toward the end of my time donating, I strictly used my left arm for both donations each week, simply because I had less issues with it. Then again, each center has a slightly different set of rules they go by.

      I don't know the full reason you were turned away; veins too small, not easily accessible, etc., so it's hard to say if there is anything you can do to ensure your ability to donate in 6 months... I wish I had a good answer for you. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

    • profile image

      AKeeney 7 weeks ago

      I just went in tonight after being denied 30 day ago for the vein check and I was denied again tonight and now they said 6 months before I can come back. It's only my right arm they are denying. Why do I have to wait so long and how can I ensure my right arm veins are good for next time?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 months ago from USA

      Art,

      There are a handful of things you can do to lower your iron levels. The first, and probably the most commonly suggested, is eating less red meat. Also because vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, limiting it to around 200 milligrams per dose can also help. Sugary foods and beverages, along with alcohol, will help your body absorb iron, so limiting these is good. Drinks like tea and coffee are good because they naturally block the iron absorption, so if you're inclined to drink a soft drink or alcohol with your meals, switching to tea might be just enough of a change to get you within the range for donation.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 months ago from USA

      Tammy,

      In theory, yes, you would be able to donate at another center, however; if one donation center finds out that you are currently registered at another center, you may get permanently banned from donating, simply because they may view you as a risk of trying to donate at both centers during the same time and that isn't good for your health.

    • profile image

      Tammy winnett 2 months ago

      If a new donor was told there bp was to high n didn't get to donate can they go to a different plasma center if the bp is down

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 months ago from USA

      Da,

      If you had to be disconnected, for some reason, without getting your blood cells back, feeling dizzy is normal. This is the same side effect you may feel if you'd donated blood (which in a way you just did).

      Lie down and raise your legs if you can. Other things that may help with the dizziness:

      1. drink plenty of fluids and have a salty snack

      2. eat your normal, regular meals

      3. avoid hot rooms and hot showers/baths for the remainder of the day

      4. avoid vigorous exercise or rushing about

      5. avoid standing for long periods for a few hours

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 months ago from USA

      Pickles,

      Pain in the arm around or near the stick site can be caused by the needle being up against the wall of the vein or the return rate of the machine being too high. Have the phlebotomist adjust the needle position and the return rate. Usually adjusting one of these will help. If you had a vein rupture, you'd have a huge dark bruise. No bruise? Then the pain us probably caused by something else.

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      Da 2 months ago

      Donate today but didn't get all my blood back I'm dizzy and having hot flashes

    • profile image

      Pickles 2 months ago

      When you say a vein may be blown, is the pain like a deep pain that you can feel all the way up and down your arm? I sometimes get a "cramping" type pain, but it's very clearly in my vein, not my muscles or tendons. It always stops after a minute or so, and the rest of the donation is fine. Could this be a "collapsed" vein rather than a blown vein?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 months ago from USA

      Bridget,

      The only thing I've ever heard the nurse on duty tell people when they felt sick, was to make sure they've eaten before their donation. For whatever reason, saline on an empty stomach is the most common reason for nausea. I wish I could be more help.

    • profile image

      Bridget 2 months ago

      The saline lately makes me feel sick at the end when returning cycle. What can I do?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 3 months ago from USA

      Jennifer,

      High protein levels can be lowered by lessening the amount of high protein foods you eat: all meats (beef, chicken, turkey and ham), egg yolks and whole grains (oat bran, wheat bran, oatmeal, all forms of rice and barley).

      Instead, try eating more fruits (bananas, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, pineapples ) and vegetables (celery, carrots, sprouts, kale, collards, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and all forms of lettuce, but avoid broccoli, baby spinach and cauliflower because they are higher in protein).

      I hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Jennifer Halliwel 3 months ago

      I hava a question? The plasma center that I donate at called today and told me that my protein levels are high and I need to come in and get blood work again. I cant donate again until i get a call saying i am cleared. Is there anything i can do to prepare for my blood work or a reason that my protein is so high?

    • profile image

      Jason 3 months ago

      I'll give it shot. Thanks!

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 3 months ago from USA

      Hi Jason.

      I know that high iron levels can be pretty common in men. I've seen studies that eating grapefruit can normalize iron levels in men and women. Drinking green tea has also been suggested as possible solution for high iron levels. I'm not positive that either of these will be a solution for you, but might be worth a shot. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Jason 3 months ago

      My issue is HIGH iron. I drink at least a gallon of water everyday, usually closer to two. I don't overeat, and I've been trying to pay as close attention as I can to iron levels in the food I eat (iron is in almost EVERYTHING). Yet, more than half the time I try to donate, I'm told my iron is way too high.

      I've recently become a bachelor again. Ramen noodles are a stable food source for now. By choice, not necessity. All the noodles I find listed "Reduced Iron" in the ingredients.

      I've even been taking in some dairy and whole grains daily as I understand these are both iron absorption inhibitors. I'm considering trying to avoid Vitamin C to try and help lower iron levels, but I've been worried I'll cause other issues by doing so.

      Any ideas on how I can get my iron levels to drop?

    • profile image

      First time 4 months ago

      Just donated a day ago, I enjoyed it However today I have tightness or minor pain in my chest. Is this a bad sign that I cant give anymore? OR is it a after donation normal thing?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 4 months ago from USA

      Hi Ashley,

      Your height and weight are very similar to mine, and donating twice a week is absolutely safe. I normally donated Tuesday and Thursday every week.

      The color of your plasma depends on a few things:

      (1) How hydrated you are (the more hydrated you are the more it clear it will be)

      (2) What types of foods you eat and when you eat (eating fatty foods or right before your donation will make it milky white/cloudy), other foods like carrots can turn your plasma a red/orange

      (3) Medication like oral contraceptives or medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can make plasma green

    • profile image

      Ashley 4 months ago

      Hi, I'm about 5'4, 122 pounds.

      would you say donating twice a week is safe? Or did you ever not do that?

      Also is it just me or is it a burning pain when they insert the needle?, I know last time I felt needle poking like pain.

      Do you know what colors mean? I saw mines and everyone else's was the same (reddish hue color) but this one girl's was light greenish or brownish.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 8 months ago from USA

      I'm not sure why you were asked about smoking, I knew a lot of people who would finish a cigarette right before donating.

      However, I have had the same thing happen to me. On occasion, usually pretty rare, some of the whole blood cells will enter the plasma bottle. When the machine catches it, and the amount hasn't exceeded the maximum amount, based on your donation volume, you will be disconnected (to prevent more red blood cell loss), given water (to replace the normal saline at the end of your donation) and be able to donate again like normal. However, if your red blood cell loss is more than the max allowed, it will be considered more of a blood donation, and you will be deferred long enough for your body to regenerate those lost blood cells. This is why you are only able to donate whole blood every 8 weeks.

    • profile image

      Xombierabbit 8 months ago

      So I've donated plasma regulary for the past few years and today during my first donation of the week I had something off happen...my machine started going off and when the lady came over she told me that some of my blood got into my plasma bottle but that it was lesser not greater? And that is have to drink a bottle of water and wait 15 minutes before leaving. She said i wasn't deferred because it was lesser but didn't explain what happened just asked if I smoke cigarettes which I dont, so can someone explain why that happened?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 9 months ago from USA

      Angela,

      If by "injector" you mean someone who needs injectable medication; it depends on they type of medication you need. Some are OK, while others are not, it's best to check with the donation center directly.

      On the other hand, if you're talking about other injectables, such as drugs; absolutely not.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 9 months ago from USA

      Dean,

      With the yearly test on your urine, it's like going to any other doctor for a sports or employment physical. Yes, they can do tests to see if you have marijuana in your system, but it's also about your overall health. And since a lot can learned through your urine, that's why they need to collect it. As far as what not to eat, treat it just like a normal donation and be hydrated. Poppy seeds used to be a red flag, but they don't seem to be much of a concern any more. Eating foods like beets, blueberries and rhubarb can turn your urine red or brown, and cause undo concern, so I would avoid those just in case.

    • profile image

      Dean Michael Mancuso 9 months ago

      I have a yearly Plasma Center physical this week. Tell what not to eat so that I pass the urinal test?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 10 months ago from USA

      darlac59,

      Your pain sounds similar to what I had when I got my most recent Tetanus vaccination. The nurse hit a nerve that runs along the muscle in my arm, and caused a great deal of pain. Because the injection was also given on the edge of the muscle, and hitting a nerve, I had a lump on my arm about the size of a golf ball cut in half, and the pain lasted for over a week. I was told by the doctor on a follow-up call that due to both of these things happening during the injection, the pain and swelling was to be expected, and would subside.

      I iced the area and that seemed to help with he pain, but the swelling took quite a while to go down.

      I hope your next immunization goes much smoother!

    • profile image

      darlac59 10 months ago

      I have just started going through the process to donate my plasma and received my first O positive immunization just over 10 days ago. The muscle in the arm that I received it in is very sore. I had no bruising or any issues at the injection site (my vein) other than a little pain when the phlebotomist started the injection. It felt similar to many years ago when I had a penicillin injection (which was very painful). When I told her it hurt she kind of wiggled the needle around and the pain subsided. I am scheduled for my next immunization in 2 mos. and hope the pain is gone by then (and doesn't reoccur). Any thoughts on this?

    • profile image

      Juicy seven 11 months ago

      I want to thank everyone for the comments. They were very helpful to my questions. But I have a totally new one.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 11 months ago from USA

      Hi April,

      If the center you donated at is like the one where I used to donate, they will keep your file, but may need to get it from the "archives". You'll also need to go through the normal physical and answer questions about your medical history. The center where I donated did this for all new donors and all current donors on a yearly basis, it was the same process for everyone. You may also need to bring any updated information to verify your current address.

    • profile image

      April 11 months ago

      Ok.....I haven't donated for at least 7/8 yrs. Am I considered a new donor?? I didn't know if they discarded someone's file if they hadn't donated for a couple years

    • profile image

      JL 11 months ago

      Responding to Ethel question: Some veins are just BIGGER than others. For instance, when I use my left arm to donate plasma it usually takes 30 to 35 minutes. When I use the right arm it takes about 60 minutes. Also, take a 81 MG aspirin a few hours before donating to help with blood flow.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 11 months ago from USA

      Ethel,

      I also started having issues with slower donation time in one arm after they blew a vein. I was told by the phlebotomist that it was because of the scar tissue from donating on a regular basis and blowing the vein. I finally just started donating with the good arm every time. As long as there was no bruising from the previous donation, it was allowed.

      I hope they will let you do the same, I know how long and frustrating a slow donation can be.

    • profile image

      Ethel1974 11 months ago

      Hi and thank you for this page. I found it via Google search.

      For 2 years I donated plasma consistently. My second or third donation during that time the phlebotomist blew my vein in my left arm. From then on I constantly have used my right arm. As you can imagine I have very bad scar tissue. I have been back to donating for almost a year now with a break of just over a year. For the second time I used my left arm and it takes forever. In my right arm I am usually at 25 - 40 minutes. In my left arm I am an hour and a half. It kills me to sit that long. Can anyone tell me why it takes so much longer in my left arm?

      Thank you in advance.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 12 months ago from USA

      Linda,

      From my experience, the procedure itself is not the issue. The fact that you needed to have a biopsy tells them that there is a possibility, even if only a slight one, that some other medical issue may be present. Once your results are back, and the doctor has cleared you (usually the donation center will request a letter from the doctor stating that your health is fine), then you should be able to resume your donating.

    • profile image

      Linda 12 months ago

      I was just told I would be deferred for not realizing that a dr taking a small piece of my lip off for a byopsy was considered a procedure. When asked how long I would be deferred she said disn't know. I don't think this is fare! I've only been donatig about 8 or 9 months. Why would that be a procedure that would harm my plasma?! Does that mean a root canal I almost just had, but didn't because dentist ran out of time would be considereal a procedure and hence another deferral?!

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 14 months ago from USA

      Sonny,

      Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it causes the body to flush out fluids and dehydrate faster than normal. Drinking caffeinated beverages; coffee/soda/tea, before your donation will cause your plasma to be thicker because of this lack of fluid, and therefore, making your donation take longer, and in some cases, more painful. I have even seen someone who had to be disconnected from the machine because their plasma was so thick, it actually clogged the tubes.

    • profile image

      Sonny Sanchez 14 months ago

      I donated for my first time last week and they said that drinking caffeine around the time of your donation is bad. Why?

    • profile image

      Ronald Abersold 17 months ago

      I've been donating plasma for 2 years, and they say they use it for medications. Then I realized that I have a plasma screen TV. Is that what they use the leftover plasma for? Or do they have separate plasma donation center for TV's? Do they pay more?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 18 months ago from USA

      Michel,

      Having one arm that performs better than the other is quite common. The structure of the veins can vary; thin walls, deeper into the arm or even smaller. During the time I had to let me right arm heal due to a blown vein, I was able to use my left arm for both donations each week. If you want to continue to donate, just use the arm you know will work the best.

    • profile image

      Michel Gagnon 18 months ago

      I have been giving plasma 8 times in the past 8 weeks. My left arm works

      A-1...however the three times we tried my right arm the procdure has to be stopped. The outtake is greeat at 120. But during the beginning of the first return the flow in has to be turn down, down, down. We manage to finish that first pass...but only collect 250ml. Question: how come the vein does not like the return? 1. vein is not straight in the arm? 2. vein is squeezed by the muscle? 3. needle is too close to ''shut off'' valve in the vein? Please help. michel.gagnon@tva.ca

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 20 months ago from USA

      Chris,

      The amount of plasma that can be extracted in each cycle greatly depends on how hydrated you are. The more you stay hydrated (on a day to day basis, not just donation days), the more plasma you can have extracted during each cycle.

    • profile image

      chris 20 months ago

      Hi I was wondering when u donate I seem to have smaller draws but I look at everyone else and there draws are much bigger how do I make my draws for each cycle bigger

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 22 months ago from USA

      Maya,

      Here's a web site that may help answer some of your questions about the RPR test.

      https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/0...

      Most centers will do a variety of additional tests on the samples they collect, but it's random. Yours just hadn't been drawn for that particular test until now.

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      Maya Robbins 22 months ago

      I just went in to the center tonight and they told me I have been diagnosed with RPR. Then they said its not an actual diagnosis but I still cant donate. What is RPR and if its that big of a deal why have they let me donate for 4 months?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 23 months ago from USA

      Sounds like an issue that needs to be brought up to the center's management.

    • profile image

      Ian R. 23 months ago

      Purple is my favorite color. And because I wear it a lot, people at the plasma center judge me and tell me I can't donate because I'm gay. THAT JUST DOESN'T SEEM RIGHT TO ME! What do you think?

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Sherry,

      If your blood pressure went up and you're having pains, it could be more than just food poisoning. I'm not a doctor, but I would recommend seeing one if the symptoms get any worse.

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      sherry elder 2 years ago

      I ate at a quick fast-food place before i donated because i was stupid and in a hurry. Half way through my cycle i stated to get symptoms of food poisoning. I had high pressure on my machine and it took forever to finish in addition. I drank my poweraid and went home. After i got home i vommited everything i are before i donated and the poweraid. Now i feel like a truck hit me and my opposite arm by my shoulder feels like its knotted and in so much pain.

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Deliteful2. Although the finger stick is the faster (and most cost effective) method of collecting your blood sample, the most accurate measure of your hematocrit and protein levels will always be from blood drawn from the arm. Having results that don't quite match up, isn't all that uncommon. I've had that happen as well. Women are also more prone to having lower numbers for both, depending on where they are within their "cycle". The best way I had of bringing up my numbers was a Snickers Protein bar and a cran/apple juice with 110% vitamin C. This combo is loaded with both protein and iron, with necessary vitamin C to help with the absorption of both. This combo for lunch or dinner the night before my donation always did the trick.

      Good luck to your friend!

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Jeff. If your hematocrit (iron) level fluctuates from acceptable levels to being too high, it could be from several of the things you've listed, and when you combine them, it's going to really add up. Being dehydrated can cause a lot of issues with your donation, and showing your hematocrit as being too high is one of them. If you're drinking your Diet Pepsi (or any soda), it dehydrates your body throughout the day, so although you drink some water before your donation, it's not nearly enough to make up for what you've lost due to the Diet Pepsi. People who smoke regularly are also at risk of having high hematocrit levels. As for the amount of water you're drinking; the more, the better. A rule of thumb (that I learned from my Dr when I was pregnant), "if you must drink a soda, make sure you drink the same amount of water in the same day".

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      Deeliteful2 2 years ago

      I have been donating since mid July of this yr. Deferred once for low protein, hadn't really eaten much the night before, or day of, so ok. No problems since, really.

      My friend that introduced me to this just had a 6 month check, and her protein was 5.7 on a needle draw. The one they send away to check. Her finger stick that day was good tho. Why is this? She has to have another check done and could take cpl weeks for results?? We also go to Biolife.

      TY in advance for info

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      jeff 2 years ago

      my problem lately has been high hematocrit levels.... I've read everything on line. I don't drink alcohol so that's not the problem, I do however drink an excess of diet pepsi, I don't drink any the day before or the day of my donation. I've followed the diet advise I've read. I do smoke but just like the soda, I don't the night before of the day of my donation.... I probably drink at least 20 oz. cups of water before my donation, is too much water bad? And like what was said earlier, it would be nice if the plasma centers would take the time to inform us on what we should be doing, I've read everything you have said to people and it all sounds like good advise.... thank you

    • camarochix72 profile image
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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much, Rhianna!

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      Rhianna McClaren 2 years ago

      Why don't the plasma donation centers themselves offer the same wealth of information that you have provided on your "Tips and Tricks" page and your "Hematocrit and Protein" page when donors first sign up with a center? They could eliminate at least 50% of the deferrals that occur and also eliminate a huge percentage of the frustration that donors experience if they would just educate us the way you have.

      I have been donating for almost 6 months now and have experienced most of the issues covered on your page, but have never been able to get clear or even consistent information out of the staff at my center. Every time I have been deferred for protein the staff just tells me to eat a good diet, and when I get deferred for hematocrit they tell me to keep hydrated. It's like they don't even understand the dynamics of the process themselves. No one until you has ever mentioned iron or vitamin C as being factors let alone offered advice for how to increase my levels.

      I really appreciate all your effort to educate us donors, but I wish someone would educate the centers and their staff that they could eliminate a lot of problems by just passing out this type of information to all new donors because it's actually true that when people know better, they do better.

      Thanks again for all your efforts. You are a blessing!

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Chris,

      Vein occlusion is a narrowing or blocking of the vein. If you weren't "permanently deferred", you should be able to donate again. I know donors who had to use one arm for both donations each week because of similar issues. If you are not sure about your status with the donation center, give them a quick call before heading out for your next donation.

      Here's a little more information about vein occlusion for you: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vascular/diseases/uev...

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      chris 2 years ago

      Donated my first two times last week. First one went fine. Second one they said my vein was intruded or something right after being stuck so they went to my other arm. Had flow issues that they couldn't figure out and before i made it to my first return cycle they said they were ending me and returning my cells and sending me on my way. I was unable to get any info out of anybody before ibleft as to what that meant in concerns to future donations. What would that mean? I barely made a fourth of my total donation before they sent me on.

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Goldie,

      I had a similar issue with my hematocrit (iron) levels on my second donation. I've found that the second day is a little more difficult to keep levels high enough because of the natural depletion from your first donation. One of the easiest ways I kept my protein and iron levels high enough was either by eating lean red meats (beef, or in my case elk), beans (like a bowl of chili), or a protein bar (Snickers was my favorite because it also had the additional iron I needed) for lunch or dinner the day before my donation. It would also be helpful to include a vitamin B-6 supplement to your daily routine to help your body absorb the protein.

      I've tried strictly going the supplements route, but found out the hard way that actually eating these foods, made the most difference.

      I hope this works for you!

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      Goldie 2 years ago

      When i donate plasma the first one goes ok but the second one my protein level is to low what is going on and what do i need to do so they are not low

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Sarah,

      If the pain is radiating up the arm during your return, it could be the return rate is too high or low on the machine, and will subside when the collection cycle starts. However, because it radiates up into your chest, and lasts longer than your donation period, I would talk with the center's RN before your next donation.

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Desirae,

      I wouldn't call your experience "normal", however, it's not unheard of. I was able to donate a very similar amount as you in 32 minutes on average, start to finish. On occasion, it would take over an hour because of issues similar to what you describe. I've had donations where both arms are used to finish the donation process, also.

      I've learned that a lot of the time, if there is pain during the donation, other than the initial stick, either the needle is resting against the wall of the vein, or the machine return needs to be adjusted.

      Giving you information on the hematoma is pretty standard. I treated mine with "RICE" (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for a few days, then I used a warm pack to help with any bruising.

      Remember, you have every right to stop your donation at any time. If you're feeling pain or are just uncomfortable with the situation you're in, don't be afraid to speak up.

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      sarah 2 years ago

      I've donated plasma about 9 times now and the last few times i've felt a tightness in my chest after donating like my heart is straining or something. It goes away after a day or two so i don't think it's a major problem but have you heard of this happening before? Im 18 and make sure to hydrate

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      Desirae 2 years ago

      I donated yesterday and it started out horrible. Usually, it takes me a little longer to donate. I average around 70 ml per cycle and I usually donate 690 ml. Yesterday, when I looked at the machine it said 825mL and I am nowhere near the weight cut off for this amount...I have a difficult time enough getting the 690. Usually by the end of the experience my machine starts beeping and I have to pump like mad to get my rate back up. ....yesterday the phlebotomist picked the smallest vein in my arm she could find I swear. I had pain almost the entire time and I had weird pains up in my armpit/shoulder area. The machine started beeping that my return pressure was high. She started poking around at my arm and took the needle out. It was very painful at the sight. She called someone else, and the RN over and they argued over what to do. She told the nurse i had been over 3 mins. The nurse insisted that it was fine that they stick my other arm and I could finish.

      Does this sound normal? My arm is in a ton of pain and it swollen and hard. They handed me a paper about "hematoma" and sent me on my way. What does this mean?

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Judy,

      I never had an issue with my protein while I donated, however, I did have a problem with my hematocrit (iron) levels. I could easily raise my levels enough the day before a donation by eating the right foods. However, I can not say for sure that your protein levels will be as cooperative, but it's always worth a shot. And don't worry about having low numbers two days in a row. It happens more than you'd think.

      One thing to know though, is that your body needs a little extra help with the absorption of protein. Try drinking an acidic drink, like orange juice, with your meal, or eating some fruit. You can also add a B-6 vitamin to your daily routine to help with your protein absorption too.

      Hope this helps! Good luck.

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      Judy 2 years ago

      I've been donating plasma for 5 months and suddenly my protein level is too low. I've increased the protein in my diet for the past couple of days. How long does it take to increase the level of protein? Is it too early to be tested again? If I eat high protein for 48 hrs is that enough time?

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Fran,

      Most of the time, in my experience, the return speed is set too high on the machine itself. This can be an issue after some scar tissue builds up around the puncture site on your arm.

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      Fran 2 years ago

      I have donated plasma for three months now. But, the last three times I have had an issue with the return having to much pressure and the machine stops. Why does this happen? Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Sophie,

      Unfortunately, no. Because of the loss of blood, even though minimal, the deferral is in your best interest. If you do try to donate at another facility, and they find out you are currently deffered, you risk permanent deferral from both and will not be able to donate at all.

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      Sophie 2 years ago

      I've been deferred for 8 weeks at my usual plasma place because of a machine malfunction. A little of my blood got into the plasma collection container before the return cycle. They even said it wasn't my fault, but I was still deferred. Can I donate plasma for a different company? Thanks!

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      camarochix72 2 years ago from USA

      Anthony,

      Because you did not receive your blood at the end of your donation, deferral is critical. It takes your body a lot longer to regenerate red blood cells than it does plasma. The lack if red blood cells, that carry oxygen through your body, can pose a host of issues if you try to donate before the time required. Also, you risk a permanent defferal from, not just that donation location, but all other locations as well.

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      Anthony 2 years ago

      Today I donated and wasn't really paying attention they unhooked me before my blood was returned for the sake of him not getting in trouble for doing so we didn't say anything but in actuality I was supposed to be deferred for 56 days if I donate next week could that cause health issues for me in other words can something happen?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Thomas,

      It sounds like the rate of collection by the machine itself needs to be adjusted. I had a similar issue several times, mine was sharp pain that started in the elbow and radiated to the shoulder. Once they adjusted the collection rate, it went away.

      Always let them know when you're in pain. At first, I was hesitant, but it's really not worth sitting there for any length of time in unnecessary pain.

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      Thomas 3 years ago

      Camarochix, thanks for answering all of these questions! My wife and I just moved to an area with a Biolife center and I have been donating for a little over two months. So far, it's been a great experience.

      I've been having a few issues though - nothing major. My donations average about 40 minutes or so. However, several times during each donation, the draw will suddenly stop for several seconds, than slowly pick up again. Rarely (once every other donation or so) I will feel a sharp pain in my upper arm and armpit region along with the sudden stop of the draw.

      My donation times are quick, so any interference with my donation speed is minimal. From your knowledge, is this something I should be concerned about?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Denise,

      I am so sorry for your loss. After having my surgery, I was told that I could go back to donating after I was no longer taking any of the prescribed medications. This includes any antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and pain killers. You may want to double check with them, as each donation center has slightly different guidelines.

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      Denise 3 years ago

      Hello I've donated plasma before. Had a miscarriage (D&C) 3 weeks ago. Is it safe to donate this soon?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Nick. That means a lot.

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      Nick 3 years ago

      I'd like to take the time to say thanks for being so informative and caring enough to take the time to do this. If no one else says it thank you

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Hydration is key in helping your veins "plump up". Drink lots of water, starting several days before going back in.

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      Nikkie 3 years ago

      I went to donate and the donation center said my veins were not good enough for donating plasma. What do I need to do to make my veins larger?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      I don't know what the reasoning for them declaring your veins as "bad", but I know that during my time donating I had several of the phlebotomists comment on my veins "rolling" while they did my stick. If this is the issue, ask to have someone else take a look at your arm, trust me, some people are just better with this than others.

      Being dehydrated will also "deflate" your veins. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help plump them up.

      Other than that, you might be better off asking them what it is exactly that makes your veins too difficult for donation.

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      Nikkie 3 years ago

      I went to donate and they said my veins wasn't good enough what do I need to do

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Garlic is awesome, and yes, it is good for your heart health.

      Here's a great article with some more information for you...

      http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265853.ph...

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      Rachelle Draper. 3 years ago

      I know this isn't really related to plasma donation, but is garlic really good for your heart? That's what other donors were talking about when i was donating.

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Tony,

      Yes, I did have a vein in my right arm blow. It does heal and you'll be able to donate with that arm again. Mine took about 3 weeks. They waited until all of the bruising was gone before they'd let me use that arm again. Until then, I just used my left arm for each donation. If you happen to blow a vein in both arms, before one has time to heal, you will not be able to donate until at least one of them has healed. This was the protocol for the center where I donated, others may be different.

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      tony 3 years ago

      you said you your vein was blown once. Does it grow back or heal or do you have to use your other arm? If it doesn't grow back or heal does that mean if you blow the other one then you're done donating plasma?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      There is a one year waiting period after getting a new tattoo. They will check all tattoo and piercing sites during your initial and yearly physical. If your tattoo is fairly new, they may be able to tell. If you don't let them know you have a new tattoo, and they later discover this information, you risk getting banned from any future donations.

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      If all you need is a letter from your doctor explaining a past condition, you should be able to contact your doctor's office and they will do it free of charge. As for changing the information on your application, if it's a change to eliminate a medical condition they may catch it, and you could be banned from donation.

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      La-a (pronounced ladasha) 3 years ago

      I got a tattoo last week. I've heard you have to wait to donate after getting a tattoo, but how long is it? I need the money right now so I don't know if it is worth telling them.

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      Terrance 3 years ago

      Ok i want to donate but i messed up mybapplication and now i need doctors notes and i have no money for that how long does it last before i can change it or can it evn be changed!?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Discomfort and even pain when starting plasma donation is common. When I first started donating, it would sometimes take days for my arm to feel normal again. Remember, they're sticking a large gauge needle in your arm and leaving it there for an extended period of time. I can tell you, from 5 years of donation experience, that it does get better.

      As far as suing the donation center goes, I'm no lawyer, nor do I claim to be, but I don't think you'd really have much luck winning this case. I say this, not because you're dealing with a large company, but because before you can donate you must sign paperwork stating that you understand all of the possible side effects that come along with your donation... including, but not limited to, pain at the injection site.

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      ToddSteven 3 years ago

      I donated today for the very first time! They messed up my arm very bad. It feels as if it fell off and is still falling off. Why did this happen? Can I sue the plasma center for the pain and suffering they caused me? They said everything went fine but they are full of crap!!!

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      The color and consistency of your plasma will vary greatly depending on your diet. Eating fatty foods will make your plasma thicker and cloudy (milky). The pink tint may be diet related, or it could be the result of a few broken red blood cells.

      Make sure you drink plenty of water and cut out the fatty foods before your donation day; most fast foods fall into this category. Your plasma should clear up. I was told that the most desirable plasma looks like white wine or champagne.

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      NhiCap 3 years ago

      I donated plasma for the first time last week. They said my plasma looked like a strawberry milkshake and it was not good plasma. They also told me that I could continue donating. Why are they letting me donate if my plasma is bad?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      Because a healthy body is able to regenerate plasma much faster than blood, plasma donation is safe to do 2 times per week, whereas blood donation can only be done once every 8 weeks.

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      AliConner 3 years ago

      How is it that you can donate so much plasma and not get sick? It seems like you would die?

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      camarochix72 3 years ago from USA

      I have absolutely no experience with, or know of any donors who have had this issue. I don't know enough about it to feel comfortable giving any advise, but I did find this site. You may find some useful information here. Good luck!

      http://www.ichelp.org/page.aspx?pid=327