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The collection facility has centrifuge machines to remove solids from the plasma and return it to the donors.

by Dave Gardner

The straw-colored liquid known as plasma that circulates within the veins of each human can be a lifesaver, provided an efficient and profitable system exists for its donation, testing and processing.

An expanded option for this process now exists in NEPA by virtue of the opening of CSL Plasma’s new center on South Main Avenue in Taylor. The company, which operates more than 200 centers across the United States, uses a business plan where plasma donors, after strict screening, receive cash for their efforts in the form of a retail debit card.

According to CSL, global demand for plasma is booming at the same time the uses of the organic fluid remain a mystery to most people. Plasma is the fluid within the blood that liquifies the mixture while carrying microscopic solids such as blood cells, proteins, fats, immune system components and clotting ingredients.

Unfortunately, to a large degree, a negative stigma still exists around the plasma donation process. Many people still believe donation is only pursued by people in need of a quick buck, although Joseph Korea, CSL center manager in Taylor, emphatically declared that individuals from all walks of life and financial situations donate.

From an altruistic standpoint, plasma donation is a true lifesaver. The fluid is the essential ingredient for products crucial to treating patients suffering from life-threatening conditions and disorders that include hemophilia, immune deficiencies, respiratory disease, transplant side effects and burns.

“This is for good cause because it truly saves lives,” said Korea. “Initially in Taylor we will average 100 to 200 donors per day, with that total expanding to as many as 1,800 per week once we’re established in the community.”

Competitive business

Plasma donation as a segment of the medical community is a competitive business, and as part of the process Taylor Center donors receive a cash payment of $50 for each of their first five donations. Following the initial five, payments are in the vicinity of $25 per donation.

The reality of plasma donation operates within a set of strict criteria and processes. Potential donors must present multiple and verified identification, submit to a questionnaire of health inquiries and be examined by a nurse.

The 45-minute donation process itself involves connection to a machine that withdraws blood, immediately separates the plasma using a centrifuge, and returns the microscopic solid components to the donor. The plasma is screened for disease and opiates, and Korea explained that all pertinent health irregularities are detected.

“We have a donor alert system that identifies for us any potential donor who has previously failed a health screening,” said Korea.

He added that repeat donations are a key segment of the CSL business plan. The 30 initial employees at the Taylor site, which will swell to 75 to 90 people, strive for donor satisfaction and use marketing tools such as consumer merchandise perks to encourage donation.