The process of collecting plasma starts with the generosity of healthy donors. Plasma can be extracted in two ways: from whole blood donations (recovered plasma), or more commonly through specific plasma donation (source plasma).
Source plasma donation is similar to a blood donation but it incorporates a process called plasmapheresis, where the cellular components of the blood (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) are separated from the plasma and returned to the donor, while the plasma is retained. The plasmapheresis process is sterile, self-contained and automated. Donors provide the raw materials needed for life-saving and life-sustaining therapies.
The collection of plasma in Canada is regulated by Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Plasma collection centers may also undergo additional certification in the voluntary International Quality Plasma Program (IQPP) that was developed by the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA), an international trade and advocacy organization. These standards not only ensure the safety of the donors, but also that the plasma collected and used to manufacture drugs is of the highest possible quality.