Plasma & Blood
Plasma-derived therapies provide life-saving treatments for a range of mostly rare, chronic diseases including hemophilia, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a genetic lung disease), primary immunodeficiencies and serious medical conditions including burns and shock.
There are many people in need of blood and plasma donations throughout the U.S. and the world. Blood and plasma donations are a great charitable service and are easily understood: donations save lives. The plasma protein therapeutics industry encourages donation in all of its forms. To ensure an adequate blood and plasma supply to meet patients’ needs, it is important that all healthy, eligible people donate regularly.
It is important to understand that plasma and plasma protein therapies are intrinsically different from blood components such as red cells, thrombocytes, and so on, obtained from a whole blood donation and intended for transfusion medicine at local hospitals. These differences center on the way plasma is collected, as well as how it are used. In contrast to whole blood and blood components used for transfusion, plasma-derived therapies undergo an elaborate, highly regulated and well controlled manufacturing process before they become final therapies used to treat patients with serious, chronic diseases and disorders. The following facts highlight some of the principle differences between the two.
What Is Plasma?
- Plasma is a clear, straw-colored liquid portion of the blood in which the other cells are suspended. It is 90 percent water.
- Plasma is roughly 55 percent of a human's total blood volume.
- Plasma is a transporting medium for cells and a variety of substances vital to the human body. Importantly, plasma contains proteins for blood clotting and defending the body against infection.
- Source plasma is collected in specialized plasma donation centers located across the U.S. and Europe.
- Recovered plasma is collected through whole blood donation, which has been separated into its cellular components (red blood cells and platelets) to be used for different medical and therapeutic purposes.
What is Whole Blood?
- Whole blood is pumped by the heart and travels through miles of blood vessels to every part of the body. It is a highly specialized liquid that circulates throughout the body and has these primary functions. It contains:
- Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to cells.
- White blood cells help prevent disease and strengthen immunity.
- Blood platelets allow blood to clot and stop the body from bleeding when cut or during surgery.
- Plasma, which is the largest component of blood, and is rich in proteins used to manufacture therapies for individuals with rare, chronic, primarily genetic diseases and disorders.
For more information about plasma and plasma protein therapies, visit our Fact Sheets.