published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Ask a doctor: What is the difference between a blood center and a plasma center?

By Dr. Liz Culler

Q: What is the difference between a blood center and a plasma center?

A: At community blood centers, donors give blood, which is then divided into red cells, platelets and plasma. The blood components are shipped to area hospitals for transfusion to patients. Hospitals only transfuse blood from unpaid donors. Voluntary donations to the community blood center are the only source of blood for patients in the area. Unlike blood centers, plasma centers compen-sate donors for plasma collection. The plasma is sold to companies that make pharmaceutical products used to treat medical problems such as hemophilia, tetanus, wounds, shock and immune system disorders. The plasma cannot be used directly for transfusion to patients. Plasma centers do not collect red cells or platelets.

— Dr. Liz Culler, Blood Assurance; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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