Is It Safe To Donate Plasma While Pregnant?

Donating blood is a noble accomplishment, something that nearly seven million Americans do each year, according to the American Red Cross. In addition to donating red blood cells, you can also donate plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood (via Cleveland Clinic). But donating plasma isn't something every person is able to do.

Plasma makes up 55% of our total blood. Within the plasma, there are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Plasma itself is actually a light yellow color, but the red blood cells are what make whole blood appear red. Plasma is important for keeping our bodies functioning, since it maintains blood pressure and circulation, regulates body temperature, protects against infections, helps the blood clot, and delivers hormones, proteins, and nutrients. If you lose a lot of blood due to an accident or surgery, you may receive a plasma donation to restore your blood supply.

When you donate plasma, a machine separates the platelets and blood cells from the plasma, returning them to your arm (per American Red Cross). It only takes a little bit longer than donating blood and helps those in emergency situations.

It could be dangerous for the recipient

Keep in mind, if you're pregnant or have recently been pregnant, you shouldn't donate plasma, according to Healthline. This is because of the presence of a protein in the blood that could be dangerous for recipients of a blood transfusion, called human leukocyte antigens (HLA). When pregnant, blood cells from the fetus combine with your blood through the placenta. HLA is created so that the body can tolerate the unfamiliar blood cells, by subduing the immune system. If someone receives a plasma donation with HLA present, even a small amount of it could cause transfusion-related acute lung injury, a potentially fatal complication.

You're also ineligible to donate any type of blood while pregnant (via Medical News Today). This is because anemia, which happens when the body doesn't create enough red blood cells, is common during pregnancy. Anemia can often cause iron deficiency, which could result in premature birth, low birth weight of the baby, or placental abruption in those who are pregnant. Donating blood can increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia, so pregnant people are not allowed to donate. However, they can choose to donate blood from the umbilical cord and placenta following the birth. This type of blood carries stem cells, which can help treat leukemia, sickle cell disease, lymphoma, and immunodeficiency disorders.