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Plasma Donation Tips and Tricks

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 Plasma 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 experienced 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, and 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

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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 that I’ve been donating plasma, this has happened to me one time. If it happens, you’ll know. Although this is 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!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: I donate plasma and when it’s time for the saline the machine stops. Do you know why this happens?

Answer: Usually, if there's an issue with the return, it'll also have issues during the return of blood cells, not just the saline.

Apparently, some donation centers will not do the saline for males, and they will instead give them a bottle of water or sports drink instead since they are less likely to have adverse reactions to the donation process than women.

Question: In regards to hematocrit levels when donating plasma, what is the best method to retain water and liquids for a low number?

Answer: A high hematocrit level is a good indicator that you're dehydrated. And the best way to lower it is simply to drink more water. No tricks, just drink more.

Question: Once you have been told that your plasma is cloudy, how long does it take to clear up? Is there anything I can do to speed up that process?

Answer: I've seen people have cloudy plasma on the first donation of the week, and it's mostly cleared up by the second of the same week. Eliminate fatty foods before you donate and drink more water. That's not to say you can't enjoy a greasy burger with some fries and a milkshake, just don't do it the day of your donation(or even the day before it you tend to eat those types of meals more often). That's really the only things you can do.

Question: Does being cold cause blood flow to slow when donating plasma?

Answer: I'm naturally a cold person, and I never had issues with it slowing down my donation. Most days I was done, from the finger prick to saline, in under an hour.

Question: In regards to donating plasma, can I switch to a new center that opened closer to my home?

Answer: I believe there is a way to do it. The new one would probably need verification that you're no longer donating at the old center, double-dipping if you will, before you can start.

Question: What can I do to get my heart rate lowered so I can donate plasma?

Answer: If your heart rate is elevated because you're nervous about the donation process, practice some breathing exercises to help calm you down. Slow deep breath in for a count of 5-8 seconds, then slow breath out for 8-10 seconds. If it's caused by a medical condition, you'll need more help from a physician than I can offer.

Question: For someone who lifts weights, is donating plasma bad for recovery? Should I only do it before non-lifting days?

Answer: Your only limitations will be after your donations. Lifting the day of your donation, before you donate and the day after are perfectly ok, just not right after.

A little extra hydration will help too.

Question: How do I speed up blood flow while donating?

Answer: The only thing I know of that actually helps speed up your donation (other than the speed of the actual machine itself), is being hydrated. Staying hydrated daily, not just on donation days, will help immensely.

Question: If I have a burn on my arm from work, will they deny my plasma donation?

Answer: Because your body uses plasma for healing injuries, such as burns, my guess is that if they deem the burn to be large enough, or bad enough, you will not be able to donate until it has healed. However, having the nursing staff at your donation center would be the best person to answer that for certain.

Question: Does wiggling your feet help with donating plasma?

Answer: I've never been asked to wiggle my feet, just to squeeze and release the foam "stress ball" repeatedly during the extraction part of the donation cycle.

Question: Can you trick the weight scale when donating plasma?

Answer: No.

Question: Does dehydration make your veins "too small" to give plasma? I tried to before but they couldn't find a good vein.

Answer: Dehydration does have an impact on your veins, not hydrated enough makes them "shrink", however, some people just have small veins and no amount of water can change that, but that doesn't mean you can never donate. You may have gotten a phlebotomist who isn't as experienced (or skilled) and may have better luck with someone else trying your stick. You have the option, and right, to ask for someone else. I've had times when I had to ask to NOT have certain phlebotomists do my stick because they always had issues and their struggles were just too painful on my end.

Question: Does too much protein make your plasma cloudy?

Answer: Plasma becomes cloudy when the amount of fat you've eaten is too high. The type of protein you're eating may have a higher fat content; fatty burger or other fatty cuts of meat. Things like milkshakes will also cloud your plasma.

Question: How many times a month can I give plasma?

Answer: Every center has the same rule, 2 times per week with at least one day between donations. My schedule was Tuesday and Thursday mid-morning, this was some of the more slow times and I was able to get in and out faster.

Question: Do plasma centers draw plasma from the hand if they can't find vein in arm?

Answer: No. At least that's what I've seen at the center where I donated.

Question: Should I always use the same arm when donating plasma?

Answer: They recommend switching between arms to reduce the soreness after donations, but it's totally up to you. After a few years of donating, I had one arm that was a lot faster than the other, so I used it exclusively for a long time. The center didn't have an issue with it; it's more about what works best for the donor.

Question: Is it ok to eat salmon the day before your plasma donation?

Answer: I've never heard of any issues with salmon, or other seafood being an issue prior to donation.

But, since salmon is a more oily fish, if you eat it before your donation, it may cloud your plasma, making it less desirable.

Question: What meats clog up your blood?

Answer: Any of the fatty cuts of beef, pork (this includes bacon), and lamb. Also, dark chicken meat and poultry skin.

Greasy birds like duck may also cause your plasma to be milky in color and thicker than normal.


Paul on October 26, 2019:

I used to go in and my heart rate would always be too high and I would always have to either get it rechecked or had to come back until one day one of the phlebotomists told me to close my eyes as they were checking it. I didn’t think it’d work but it actually did. Since I started doing that Ive only had to be checked once when it used to be a pretty much every visit thing. So for anyone who has that problem just remember, close your eyes as breath slowly as they’re checking it.

Kels28 on July 04, 2019:

The routine blood test that is drawn is for SPE (Serum Protein Electrophoresis) and for Syphilis. We do not test your WBC count. The SPE test all of the different types of proteins levels that are found in your plasma. If you give yourself about a week before taking a new SPE that should give your body time to recover.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on October 16, 2018:

Ok. Your white blood cell count may be elevated. This is an indication that you do have some type of infection. Without further testing from your regular doctor, there is no way of pinpointing where or what type of infection you may have.

Grace Danielson on October 15, 2018:

It’s not the finger prick, it’s the routine blood draws that they take every 3 months or so. I’ve talked to the nurse and they are the ones that tell me it’s because my body is fighting something off. It’s not an iron issue, I never have an issue with that and they never bring that up. It’s whatever test it is that they do during the blood draws.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on October 15, 2018:

If your protein level is high enough, it would have to be low hematocrit (iron) levels. Those are the two things they check when you get your finger pricked. If this is the case, I've listed several ways to help you increase your iron levels in the article here:

If it is not your iron levels keeping you from donating, ask to speak to the nurse on staff, many times the phlebotomist won't be able to give an answer, but the nurse will.

Grace Danielson on October 10, 2018:

I have been donating for 2 years and in the last year I’ve been routinely failing the blood draws. I have a high enough protein level to get to the bed, but then after I get the blood draw they tell me my levels are a little off and it could be that my body is fighting something off. I’m not sick (that I can tell anyway) and I don’t usually have allergies. I ask them what I can do about it and they don’t seem to give me a clear answer. Is this a low protein issue or something else?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on May 18, 2018:


Try reducing "complete proteins" in your diet: roast beef, chicken, ham, and turkey. Eggs are also high in protein, eliminating the yolks will lower their protein value.

Adding more fruits, vegetables and white grains are a good substitute: bananas, grapes, apples, squash, sprouts, kale, carrots, white bread, white bagels and refined cereals. Watch out for whole grain and whole wheat, though, these options are higher in protein.

Becky on May 17, 2018:

I want to donate plasma but my protein was hot and I want to get it down what do I need to do in the morning

camarochix72 (author) from USA on May 07, 2018:

Hi Randy,

The best way I know of lowering your heart rate is to practice a meditation-like breathing. Breathe in deeply through your nose for the count of 5-8 seconds (until lungs are full), then exhale slowly through your mouth for the count of 8-10. Do this several times, it'll raise your aortic pressure and lower your heart rate.

Randy on May 05, 2018:

I can't get my pulse down any tips on how to do that

camarochix72 (author) from USA on March 05, 2018:


I have experienced it, and I know how painful it is. The center I went to explained to me that usually when this happens, the speed of the machine needs to be adjusted. I've had it happen during both the collection and return phases of the donation, and both times, after making adjustments to the machine speed itself, the pain went away.

Maleah on March 04, 2018:

Hi, I just started donating last week. Today was my second time. Both times, I've had a sharp pain along the back of my arm. The first time i said something about it, they told me the cuff was likely too tight. This time, no one was around when it started again. Have you ever experienced this? It kind of worries me.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on February 21, 2018:

Hi Tracy,

I had the best luck with actual foods high in iron, rather than iron supplements; red meats, kidney or pinto beans and iron-rich protein bars combined with high vitamin C drinks, like your cran-apple juice, always gave me the best results.

Good luck!

Tracy Jackson 50 on February 15, 2018:

My hemocrit was 36 need to get it to 38.have to have to donate tomorrow. Have iron pills also ocean spray cran-apple juice. Any other tips for me?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on January 03, 2018:


Depending on how busy the lab is that they use, assuming your center is like the one I went to and they send samples to an outside lab, it could take a few weeks. When you're able to donate again, just refrain from eating fatty foods before your donation, and drink plenty of water, this will help to clear up your plasma and your donation will go much smoother.

In the meantime, you can always make a quick call to see if they've gotten your results back, but just haven't had a chance to contact you.

Hope this helps.

Sarge on January 03, 2018:

My first time donating I had a bad experience where the machine got clogged and I wasn't able to finish and the tech also blew my vein. On the second time they took another blood sample because they said the first one was cloudy it's been over a week and the results haven't came back and I still can't donate. Should I be worried?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:


Your experience sounds horrifying! I have seen people pass out after their donation, and one come very close during donation, but what you describe is much worse than that. To me, and I'm by no means a doctor, the dehydration sounds like a stretch, something else could be in play.

KAS in Ohio on November 04, 2017:

I began donating plasma last month, twice per week. I have donated blood in the past. Yesterday was my 6th time and the only time I had a scary experience. I had a Salmon dinner right before I went to my 4:45pm appointment. My blood pressure was normal. At the end, after I reached the max limit of blood withdrawn, (my blood comes out fast) the machine then is supposed to return my red blood cells and give me saline along with an anticoagulant. At that moment I had a burning pain where the needle was in my arm. A lump began forming, a hematoma, I began feeling sick. I told the technician right away. From there it got worse. They took the needle out and were attempting to put a needle in my other arm to give me back my red blood cells and saline. But at each passing second, I was crashing as I needed the red blood cells and saline. I instantly became sick, almost threw up and crapped my pants, legs started shaking, nurse was talking to me but she was fading out and could not see her, could barely breathe, gasping for air, chest hurt, my entire body hurt, they were trying to help me by putting my feet up, ice packs on me, etc. The feeling of pure terror as I thought for sure I was going to die. Everything went black and I passed out. After I came during the next 10 minutes, I slowly started to see again. They checked my blood pressure three times after, it kept dropping, I left the facility and it was 74/40. Last night my chest, stomach and back of neck hurt, weak and nauseous. Today I have a really bad stomach ache and am exhausted and weak. They insisted that I did not drink enough fluids and must have been dehydrated. The last two times they upped my level of plasma being taken as with my boots and clothes on I weighed in exactly at 150lbs. At home today I am 145 lbs. undressed.I am not sure I could donate plasma again, I never want to experience that again.

Tom Lohr from Magdalena, NM on October 17, 2017:

I tried donating this week. After all of the waiting they couldn't hit a vein. I'll try super hydrating but if they have the same problem I will likely give up.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on September 27, 2017:


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.

Dee on September 26, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on September 25, 2017:


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.

Amanda on September 24, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on August 30, 2017:


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

Karina on August 29, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on August 29, 2017:


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.

AKeeney on August 28, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on August 17, 2017:


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 (author) from USA on August 12, 2017:


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.

Tammy winnett on August 10, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on August 04, 2017:


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 (author) from USA on August 04, 2017:


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.

Da on August 02, 2017:

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

Pickles on August 02, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on August 01, 2017:


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.

Bridget on July 28, 2017:

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

camarochix72 (author) from USA on July 14, 2017:


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!

Jennifer Halliwel on July 11, 2017:

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?

Jason on July 03, 2017:

I'll give it shot. Thanks!

camarochix72 (author) from USA on July 01, 2017:

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!

Jason on June 30, 2017:

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?

First time on June 15, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on June 01, 2017:

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

Ashley on May 31, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on January 26, 2017:

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.

Xombierabbit on January 25, 2017:

So I've donated plasma regulary for the past few years and today during my first donation of the week I had something off 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 (author) from USA on January 16, 2017:


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 (author) from USA on January 04, 2017:


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.

Dean Michael Mancuso on January 04, 2017:

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

camarochix72 (author) from USA on December 08, 2016:


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!

darlac59 on December 05, 2016:

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?

Juicy seven on November 20, 2016:

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

camarochix72 (author) from USA on November 14, 2016:

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.

April on November 11, 2016:

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

JL on November 01, 2016:

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 (author) from USA on October 25, 2016:


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.

Ethel1974 on October 24, 2016:

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 (author) from USA on October 05, 2016:


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.

Linda on October 05, 2016:

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 (author) from USA on August 09, 2016:


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.

Sonny Sanchez on August 09, 2016:

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

Ronald Abersold on May 07, 2016:

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 (author) from USA on April 01, 2016:


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.

Michel Gagnon on March 30, 2016:

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.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on January 31, 2016:


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.

chris on January 30, 2016:

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 (author) from USA on November 28, 2015:


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

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.

Maya Robbins on November 28, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on November 06, 2015:

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

Ian R. on October 31, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on September 28, 2015:


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.

sherry elder on September 28, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on September 08, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on September 08, 2015:

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".

Deeliteful2 on September 07, 2015:

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

jeff on September 01, 2015:

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 (author) from USA on June 20, 2015:

Thanks so much, Rhianna!

Rhianna McClaren on June 13, 2015:

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!

camarochix72 (author) from USA on March 31, 2015:


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:

chris on March 30, 2015:

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.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on March 06, 2015:


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!

Goldie on March 05, 2015:

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

camarochix72 (author) from USA on January 23, 2015:


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.

camarochix72 (author) from USA on January 23, 2015:


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.

sarah on January 21, 2015:

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

Desirae on January 21, 2015:

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?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on January 08, 2015:


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.

Judy on January 08, 2015:

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?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on December 31, 2014:


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.

Fran on December 30, 2014:

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?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on November 13, 2014:


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.

Sophie on November 12, 2014:

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!

camarochix72 (author) from USA on November 02, 2014:


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.

Anthony on October 31, 2014:

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?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on October 09, 2014:

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.

Thomas on October 01, 2014:

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?

camarochix72 (author) from USA on September 25, 2014:


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.

Denise on September 23, 2014:

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

camarochix72 (author) from USA on August 16, 2014:

Thank you, Nick. That means a lot.

Nick on August 12, 2014:

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