Plasma is the fluid part of blood and makes up the bulk of the volume. It contains substances that can be used totreat a number of different conditions.
Blood is made up of four separate components, which each perform a different function. They are:
Plasma is the largest component of blood, making up about 55% of its overall content. It's mainly made of water and surrounds the blood cells, carrying them around the body.
Plasma helps maintain blood pressure and regulates body temperature. It contains a complex mix of substances used by the body to perform important functions.
These substances include minerals, salts, hormones and proteins.
Three important proteins found in plasma are:
Plasma components can be used in a number of different ways, depending on the condition they're being used to treat.
The two main methods of using plasma are:
For example, they can be usedin severe injuries when there's a lot of bleeding.
In the UK, specific clotting factors are also used to treat Haemophilia , an inherited condition that affects the blood's ability to clot.
Immunoglobulins are part of the immune system (the body's natural defence againstinfection and illness).
Immunoglobulins are antibodies that the body produces to fight a variety of infections. For example, they're used to fight health conditions such as:
Normal human immunoglobulins can be used to support people whohave conditions where their immune system is having difficulty producing antibodies.
Plasma is the source of anti-D immunoglobulin, a substance often given by injection to pregnant women with a rhesus-negative blood group (RhD negative)whose unborn baby may have a rhesus-positive blood group (RhD positive).
This treatment prevents the mother becoming sensitised to the baby's blood and stops immune anti-D developing. Immune anti-D can cause rhesus disease in subsequent pregnancies, which is a potentially fatal condition.
Some people can experience problems related to a plasma transfusion.
These can vary in severity from a slight increase in temperature to the development of a serious condition called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in very rare cases.
Plasma is the main component of blood. It contains substances that can be used to treat different conditions.
Plasma and plasma components can be removed from blood in a number of different ways, allowing them to be used to treat a variety of conditions.
Plasma components can save lives, but their use isn't without risk. In some cases there can be adverse reactions, which can differ in severity.