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Learning About Fresh Frozen Plasma

Blood vessel

What is fresh frozen plasma?

Plasma is the liquid part of blood. It contains water, minerals, and other substances. Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) is plasma that has been frozen so it can be stored and used later. The plasma you get is thawed out and warmed before it is used.

Plasma comes from blood that has been donated. The donated blood is carefully tested to make sure it's safe to use.

Why do you need fresh frozen plasma?

Your doctor may give you plasma if:

  • You've lost a lot of blood. A plasma transfusion can replace the fluid you lost.
  • You don't have enough clotting factors in your blood because of a health condition, such as a genetic disease like hemophilia, to help stop any bleeding.
  • You have a bleeding emergency while taking a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents blood clots. A plasma transfusion adds fluid and provides clotting factors in your blood. Clotting factors help control bleeding.

How is it done?

You get plasma by transfusion. Transfusion is a medical treatment that puts plasma into your body through a vein.

To receive the transfusion, you will have an intravenous (I.V.) tube called a catheter inserted into a vein. The catheter is attached to the bag that contains the plasma. The bag is placed higher than your body. Then the plasma flows into your vein.

A doctor or nurse will follow a strict process to make sure that the plasma you get is safe and comes from blood that matches your blood type.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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