Understanding why plasma donation centers check your elbows

*What is plasma donation and how does it help others?

Plasma donation is a lifesaver activity where healthy individuals can donate their plasma, which is an essential component of blood, to help other people in need. Plasma is a pale yellow-colored liquid part of blood that carries essential proteins, electrolytes, and nutrients throughout the body.

How is the plasma donation process carried out?

The plasma donation process is quite simple. A needle is inserted into the donor’s vein, and blood is extracted. The collected blood is then sent through a special machine called a “plasma separator,” which separates plasma from other blood components, such as red and white blood cells and platelets. The separated plasma is then collected in a sterile bag, while the rest of the blood components are returned to the donor’s body.

Why do plasma donation centers check your elbows?

One of the essential steps of plasma donation after registering and checking for eligibility is to perform a physical examination of the donor, including checking their elbows. But, why do they check your elbows when donating plasma?

The reason behind this step is to ensure that the donor’s veins are prominent and healthy enough for a successful plasma donation. The veins in the elbow area are relatively large and have adequate blood flow, making it easier to insert the needle and extract the required amount of blood. Besides, the elbow area is easily accessible and readily visible, allowing the technicians to examine the veins and ensure that they are healthy enough for donation.

What are the factors that plasma donation centers consider when checking your elbows?

During the physical examination, the plasma center technician may check several factors related to the donor’s elbows to ensure that the donation process will proceed smoothly, and the donor will not face any complications.

  • Size and visibility of the veins: The technician will examine the veins’ size, visibility, and accessibility for a successful donation process. They prefer veins that are large enough to withstand the needle’s pressure and visible enough to avoid damage to nearby tissues.
  • Scars and tattoos: They will check for any scarring or tattoos that may impact the ability to access the veins or increase the risk of complications. Scarring or tattoos over the veins may change the vein’s anatomy or cause the needle to penetrate the skin’s surface.
  • Skin condition in the elbow area: They will check the skin’s condition around the elbow area, such as cuts, bruises, or rashes, as these can impact the vein’s accessibility and increase the risk of infection.
  • Any injuries in the elbow area: They will assess if any recent injuries or surgeries have occurred in the elbow area, as any previous injuries can damage or weaken the veins.

Are there any risks associated with plasma donation?

Plasma donation is generally safe and painless, but like any other medical procedure, it does come with some risks. However, these risks are quite rare and typically minor.

One of the immediate risks of plasma donation is bleeding, which occurs when the needle punctures the vein, and the blood continues to flow out of the vein after the needle is removed. However, this can be easily resolved by applying pressure to the insertion site and raising the arm.

Another risk is infection at the insertion site. Although plasma centers use sterile needles and equipment, there is still a small risk of infection. Signs of infection include redness, pain, and swelling in the arm, and fever. If someone experiences any of these symptoms after donating plasma, they should seek medical attention immediately.


Plasma donation is a vital activity that can save lives and make a positive impact in someone’s life. Plasma centers check elbows to ensure that the donor has healthy and prominent veins, which are essential for a successful plasma donation.

Although there are some risks associated with this process, they are usually minor, and the benefits of plasma donation significantly outweigh them. By donating plasma, you can make a significant contribution to society, and potentially save someone’s life.