Donating plasma is a great way to earn some extra money while providing life-saving plasma for others in need. However, if you have an upcoming surgery scheduled, you may be wondering if it is safe for you to donate plasma beforehand.
The short answer is, it depends. Whether or not you can donate plasma before surgery depends on several factors, including:
- The type of surgery you are having
- Your overall health
- Your donation history
In general, most doctors recommend avoiding plasma donation for 1 to 2 weeks before any type of surgery. This is because donating plasma reduces your blood volume, which can increase your risk of bleeding during and after surgery. However, for minor surgeries with low bleeding risk, donating plasma up to 3 to 5 days before may be allowed. The only way to know for sure if you can donate plasma before your specific surgery is to talk to your doctor.
In this article, we will explore all aspects of donating plasma before surgery so you can have an informed discussion with your doctor. We cover:
- The factors your doctor will consider in determining if you can donate plasma before surgery
- Recommendations for donating plasma before common types of surgeries
- Instructions for preparing to donate plasma before surgery if approved by your doctor
- Risks associated with donating plasma too close to surgery
- Alternative options if you are not able to donate plasma
Factors Your Doctor Will Consider
Your doctor will evaluate several factors to determine if it is safe for you to donate plasma before your scheduled surgery, including:
Type of Surgery
The type of surgery you are having significantly impacts the recommendation on plasma donation. Minor surgeries with low bleeding risk, such as endoscopies or cyst removals, typically only require avoiding donation for 3 to 5 days before surgery. However, major surgeries, especially those involving organs such as the spleen, stomach or intestines, require avoiding plasma donation for at least 1 to 2 weeks before surgery due to the higher risk of blood loss.
If you have underlying health conditions such as anemia, bleeding disorders or low blood pressure, your doctor will likely recommend avoiding plasma donation for at least 2 weeks before surgery. These conditions can make it more difficult for your body to recover the lost plasma volume after a donation, increasing risks associated with surgery.
If you have a history of experiencing side effects or complications after donating plasma, such as dizziness, fainting or experiencing a longer recovery time, your doctor may recommend avoiding pre-surgery plasma donation altogether. Your body may have a harder time handling the effects of plasma loss before surgery.
Recommendations for Common Surgeries
Here are some general recommendations for donating plasma before common types of surgeries:
- Minor Surgeries (e.g. endoscopy, cyst removal): Okay to donate 3 to 5 days before surgery. Discuss with your doctor to be sure.
- Hernia Repair or Gallbladder Removal: Avoid plasma donation for at least 1 to 2 weeks before surgery.
- Joint Surgery (e.g. knee replacement): Avoid plasma donation for at least 2 weeks before surgery due to high blood loss risk.
- Heart Surgery: Do not donate plasma for at least 4 weeks before surgery to allow your blood volume to return to normal.
- Gastrointestinal Surgery: Do not donate plasma for at least 4 weeks before surgery due to the complexity and high blood loss risk.
Always check with your doctor for their specific recommendation based on your unique situation. When in doubt, it is best to avoid donating plasma close to the time of your surgery.
Preparing to Donate Plasma Before Surgery
If your doctor determines it is safe for you to donate plasma within 1 to 2 weeks of your surgery, follow any instructions they provide carefully. Some recommendations to help ensure a successful donation and recovery include:
- Eat a healthy meal with lean proteins and complex carbohydrates a couple hours before your donation. This provides fuel for your body to replenish the lost plasma.
- Hydrate well by drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water the day of your donation. Staying hydrated helps fill your veins, making the donation process easier.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and strenuous activity the day before and after your donation. These things can further deplete your body.
- Get plenty of rest the night before your donation. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your blood pressure and hydration level.
- Inform the plasma donation staff about your upcoming surgery. This helps them evaluate if it is still safe for you to donate and ensures precautions are taken to avoid complications.
Risks of Donating Plasma Too Close to Surgery
The two major risks of donating plasma within 2 weeks of surgery are:
- Excessive Blood Loss: Donating plasma reduces your total blood volume by removing the plasma portion, which contains blood clotting factors and antibodies. This makes it more difficult for your body to control bleeding during and after surgery, increasing your risk of losing too much blood.
- Delayed Recovery: After donating plasma, it takes time for your body to rebuild the lost plasma. If you have surgery too soon after donating, your body may have difficulty recovering due to the amount of blood loss. This can lead to post-surgery complications like anemia or a prolonged recovery period.
For the safest surgery results, donation centers typically recommend patients do not donate plasma for 1 to 2 weeks before any type of surgery. Always check with your doctor as only they know your unique medical situation. It is better to be safe than risk complications from donating plasma too close to the time of your procedure.
Alternatives If You Cannot Donate Plasma Before Surgery
If donating plasma before your scheduled surgery is not recommended or approved by your doctor, do not worry. There are a few options to consider instead, including:
Donate plasma after your surgery and recovery. Once your doctor clears you to resume normal activities again, which can take 2 to 6 weeks depending on the surgery, you can go back to donating plasma. Be sure to let the center know about your recent procedure.
Consider other ways to earn income in the meantime. Instead of plasma donation, you might explore options such as:
- Temporary job opportunities: Drive for a rideshare service, pick up a retail job, deliver food, etc.
- Survey taking: Fill out online surveys in your spare time for cash and rewards.
- Selling unwanted items: Have clothing, books, or other goods you can part with? Sell them online or at a yard sale to generate money.
- Renting out a spare room: If you have an extra room in your home, consider renting it out to a tenant during your recovery period.
The time leading up to and after your surgery is critical for ensuring proper healing. Do not feel bad if donating plasma does not fit into that timeframe. Your health should be the top priority. There are temporary ways to earn income during your recovery period if needed. The plasma center and opportunities to donate will still be there once you have fully healed.
In summary, whether or not you can donate plasma before surgery depends on the recommendations of your doctor based on the specifics of your procedure and medical history. For most major or high-risk surgeries, avoiding plasma donation for 2 to 4 weeks beforehand is best practice for safe and successful surgery results. However, for minor surgeries, donating 3 to 5 days before may be permitted if your doctor approves and you follow any provided preparation instructions carefully. The most important part of the process is maintaining frequent and open communication with your doctor regarding your plasma donation and surgery timeline.