News Excerpt
To enable the search for plasma donors more systematic, the Delhi government inaugurated India’s first plasma bank at ILBS Hospital in Delhi.

What is Plasma?
•    Plasma is the clear, straw-colour liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed.
•    It is the single largest component of human blood, comprising about 55 percent, and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins.
•    Composed of 90% water, plasma is a transporting medium for cells and a variety of substances vital to the human body.
•    Plasma carries out a variety of functions in the body, including clotting blood, fighting diseases and other critical functions.
•    Source plasma is plasma that is collected from healthy, voluntary donors through a process called plasmapheresis and is used exclusively for further manufacturing into final therapies.
•    Recovered plasma is collected through whole blood donation in which plasma is separated from its cellular components. Recovered plasma may be used for fractionation.

Importance of Donation
Source plasma donation and blood donation are critically important activities that contribute to saving lives. Source plasma and recovered plasma are used to produce therapies that treat people with rare, chronic diseases and disorders such as primary immunodeficiency, hemophilia and a genetic lung disease, as well as in the treatment of trauma, burns and shock.

What is a plasma bank?
A plasma bank functions like a blood bank, and has been created specifically for those who are suffering from Covid-19, and have been advised the therapy by doctors. The facility has been set up at the ILBS, which will be the nodal centre for collection of plasma.

Who can donate plasma?
•    Those who had the disease, but have recovered at least 14 days before the donation can be considered as a plasma donor— although doctors prefer a time of three weeks between recovery and donation.
•    People between the ages of 18 and 60, and weighing not less than 50 kg are eligible. Women who have given birth are not eligible, as the antibodies they produce during pregnancy (after being exposed to the blood of the foetus) can interfere with lung function.
•    People with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are also excluded.

How does plasma donation differ from blood donation?
    In plasma donation, as opposed to blood donation, only plasma is extracted and the other components of blood are returned to the body.
    Blood contains several components, including red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and plasma.
    During a whole blood donation, donors typically donate a pint (about a half litre) of blood.
    During automated donation (apheresis), you will be connected to the apheresis machine using a fully disposable one-time use apheresis kit. The process uses a single needle.
    The machine will selectively retain the plasma and return all red blood cells and other components of blood. All plasma proteins lost due to donation will be formed again in 24-72 hours.
    500 ml of plasma can be donated every two weeks, while blood can be donated once in three months.

    The Chief Minister ArvindKejriwal inaugurated India’s first plasma bank at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) to ease access to plasma that is being used as a trial to treat Covid-19 patients.
    The bank will coordinate with patients who have recovered from Covid-19, and are eligible to donate plasma.
    In Delhi, seven hospitals have permission to conduct the plasma trials on Covid-19 patients.
    The rising demand for plasma among the patients pushed the government to set up a one-stop centre for the donors.
    Plasma was not easily available and the patient’s attendants were running from pillar to post in search of plasma from a recovered patient.
    In plasma therapy, the antibody rich plasma from a recovered patient is extracted and administered to a patient. The trials are trying to find out if the antibodies can help patients recover.
    The extensive checks and stringent eligibility conditions are among the reasons that finding an apt donor for Covid-19 patients are proving to be a problem.
    Each hospital should contact the plasma bank along with the details of the patient who is in need of plasma therapy. All Delhi hospitals will have to appoint a nodal officer who will be coordinating with the ILBS for plasma.
    Each plasma donation would be used to treat 2 patients. The bank collects 500 ml of plasma, depending on weight.

Though plasma is not the ultimate cure of novel coronavirus but it is helpful for patients with moderate symptoms, mainly those whose condition is not serious. Plasma Bank will organise the availability of plasma as well its donation and therefore help in treatment of COVID-19 patient.