Blood is a real lifesaving bodily fluid— not only for people who have an ample volume of healthy blood flowing through their veins, but also for those who have lost so much and now in desperate need of clean blood that could ultimately save their lives and help them regain their strength and energy.
Aside from the common knowledge about blood donation (one person gives his/her own blood to a licensed institution, then that blood will be transfused to another person who needs it), the human blood given in donations is also used in developing, creating, and manufacturing various therapies and medicines— specifically its dominating component, which is plasma.
Plasma, the clear liquid which makes up 55% of the human blood, has been— and is still being— used for several lifesaving medications. In this article, you will discover what these products are and their benefits to those ailing people who need immediate and guaranteed recovery.
TYPES OF PLASMA PRODUCTS
Plasma, when extracted from the body, can serve many purposes. Once out of the system and into the bag, it is broken down into important substances that will eventually lead to three plasma product types: immunoglobulins, human albumin solutions, and coagulation factors.
Immunoglobulins are essential antibodies that are part of the immune system, which is, as we all know, is the body’s natural defense against all kinds of diseases and illnesses. They are the ones responsible for warding off various infections, viruses, and bacteria.
These components are divided into two parts: specific and non-specific.
Specific immunoglobulins are often used to develop products that are given to patients who have been exposed to certain infections. Some examples of products derived from specific immunoglobulins are the antidotes to rabies, hepatitis B, tetanus, and chickenpox. The anti-D immunoglobulin, a product which is given to rhesus-negative (RhD negative) pregnant women to prevent them from becoming sensitive to their baby’s blood, is also a perfect example of a specific immunoglobulin product.
Non-specific immunoglobulins are often used for people who are having problems producing their own antibodies. Whether by birth or because of certain treatments (which make them incapable of making good antibodies), some people need non-specific immunoglobulins to make up for their faulty immune system.
Human albumin solutions
Albumin is an important component of plasma. It is responsible for cleaning the blood, maintaining the right amount of fluid around the body, and carrying vital substances in the body. It is also the dominant protein in plasma.
Solutions made out of human albumin are helpful in treating various illnesses and accidents, such as:
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- incorrect level of body circulation
Coagulation (or clotting) factors are plasma proteins that function with platelets to clot blood. They aid in controlling bleeding and ensure that the blood clots properly.
Clotting factors can be used for treatments concerning bleeding/blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia. People with this kind of illness can be treated with replacement therapy, wherein it will replace a certain missing clotting factor.
OTHER PLASMA PRODUCTS
Aside from the three main types— and the products that can be derived from them— mentioned, there are other products that were made possible by plasma.
Heparin is an anticoagulant substance that is used to prevent blood clot formation during or after a certain surgery. It is also used as a treatment for different circulatory, lung, and heart disorders with a higher risk of blood clot formation.
Like clotting factors, antihemophilic factors are used to aid proper blood clotting. It is put inside the body either by vein injection or addition in an intravenous fluid that will drip through a needle in your vein.
Anti-Inhibitor Coagulant Complex
Like other plasma products, the anti-inhibitor coagulant complex is used to control bleeding, especially in patients with hemophilia A and B during surgery. It has vital substances that help the blood clot and stop bleeding. It can be given by means of powder for solution.
A recombinant antithrombin is used to prevent perioperative and peripartum thromboembolic events in patients with hereditary antithrombin deficiency. Its function is to regulate the inflammatory process and blood clotting.
Corifact is an FXIII concentrate that is used for routine prophylactic treatment and perioperative management of bleeding in surgeries for adults. It is also intended for patients with congenital FXIII deficiency.
Kcentra (Prothrombin Complex Concentrate, Human)
Kcentra is used for acute major bleeding therapies, urgent surgery cases, and immediate reversal of coagulation factor deficiency received by a patient.
Protein C Concentrate (Human)
Protein C Concentrate is used for treatment and possible prevention of purpura fulminans and venous thrombosis in patients who suffer from congenital Protein C deficiency. It is also used as a replacement therapy for treatment of warfarin-induced skin necrosis that is acquired during oral anticoagulation.
THE DEAL WITH FROZEN PLASMA
Medicines and injectable proteins are not the only beneficial things that indirect recipients of your plasma could be thankful for. Another product that can be developed out of the plasma in your body is fresh, frozen plasma.
So, how does this work?
When you donate blood, a special machine will process it and separate the plasma from your blood. Then, it will be frozen and stored until a patient that requires a plasma transfusion comes along. When that happens, your fresh, frozen plasma will be thawed under controlled conditions and will be transfused to that patient who is in need of your lifesaving plasma.
Frozen plasma is intended for multiple reasons/medical cases, such as:
- multiple coagulation factor replacement for patients who suffer from liver disease deficiencies
- replacement therapy for patients undergoing liver transplant or cardiac surgery
- plasma exchange with patients who have thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)
- treatment of bleeding that is caused by multiple factor deficiencies
- treatment of people with coagulation factor deficiencies
- treatment of patients with rare plasma protein deficiencies
- replacement of labile clotting factors and other proteins
Plasma is a very helpful component. Once transfused to a patient’s body, it will serve a very good purpose. But, be careful with the side effects. Some of the harmful effects of plasma transfusion are acute lung injury, haemolysis, anaphylactic and allergic reactions, and even the dreaded Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Consult your doctor very well before a plasma transfusion.