Offering new and returned donors the option to give plasma: implications for donor retention and donor adverse events

Amanda Thijsen, Tanya E. Davison, Joanna Speedy, Veronica Hoad, Barbara Masser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: In 2018, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood changed its plasmapheresis eligibility criteria to allow donors to donate plasma without the requirement of a prior successful whole blood donation. This study evaluated the impact of this policy change on donor retention and donor safety. 

Materials and Methods: All donors who had attempted to give their first plasma or whole blood donation from January to June 2018 were included in this retrospective cohort study. Donor characteristics and adverse events were analysed for this index donation, and the cohort was followed for 18 months to analyse time to return, subsequent donation frequency and predictors of return. 

Results: Male and younger donors provided a significantly greater proportion of first donation plasma than females and older donors. New donors who gave plasma had the highest rate of donor adverse events, including vasovagal reactions and phlebotomy injuries. Nevertheless, donor retention was not affected, with more new donors returning and at a greater subsequent donation frequency after a plasma donation compared to new donors donating whole blood. First-time plasma donors who had previously donated whole blood, however, had greater and quicker rates of return, and more subsequent donations. 

Conclusion: Offering new donors the option to give plasma had a positive effect on donor return and subsequent donation frequency. Removing the requirement of a prior whole blood donation is a viable way to increase plasma collections although the combined effect of new donor status and plasmapheresis procedure on adverse event risk needs to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273–280
Number of pages8
JournalVox Sanguinis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • blood donation
  • donor adverse events
  • plasmapheresis
  • retention
  • whole blood

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