Plasma refers to the portion of the blood that contains red and white blood cells, platelets and a protein-salt solution. The red and white blood cells and platelets are suspended in the protein-salt solution. Plasma makes up 55 percent of human blood volume.
Plasma has many valuable functions that it performs, including helping individuals maintain a healthy blood pressure. The proteins in plasma help blood clot effectively and provide immunity to deadly diseases. Minerals can be exchanged through plasma, allowing the body to maintain a proper pH level. The correct pH level is essential for cells to function correctly.
The versatility of plasma makes it a valuable item for sick individuals. It can be donated to help those who need it, such as cancer patients, trauma patients and patients with blood-clotting disorders. Plasma can be stored for up to one year. The plasma is filtered out of the blood during the donation process; the rest of the blood is then returned to the donor.
Plasma can be transfused directly to sick individuals, or it can be used to make a plasma derivative. A process known as fractionation is used to obtain the plasma derivatives. After purification, the derivatives are used to treat patients with various diseases. Some of the derivatives that can be obtained are albumin, immune globulins, anti-thrombin III concentrate and anti-inhibitor coagulation complex.