OBI not accepting women's plasma, will accept blood

Lawton_The Oklahoma Blood Institute has just put new guidelines into effect to help protect patients from a rare transfusion complication.  It's called "Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury", or TRALI, and it can come from plasma donated by women.  OBI provides blood and plasma to over 100 hospitals in the state and they're asking women to donate products other than plasma so they can continue saving lives.

OBI says it's very safe to donate plasma, despite the new guidelines and the condition doesn't affect the donor - and, it's only in very rare cases that transfusion recipients are affected.  However, it might be a pretty lean season this year since they can't afford to take any more plasma from women.  Institute officials say the rare complication could be deadly if transmitted.

"TRALI is associated with the antibodies - that's what's causing the reaction," says Christa Cline-Bear at OBI.  "And women have a higher level of antibodies due to pregnancy.  And so that's why we're asking females donors to change their donation type."  Women can, instead, donate platelets, red blood cells or whole blood.

The female plasma OBI has on hand won't be going to waste, though.  Female plasma will be helping in other ways.  "Female plasma will then go into a process called fractionation, which the proteins will be divided into components and they'll go into life-saving products," says Cline-Bear.  Once altered, the cells will be used to help burn victims and hemophiliacs.  Men's plasma will still be used for transfusions.

OBI is sending letters to all of its donors explaining that they are still needed.  "This holiday season, we always need donations.  And there's no better gift to give than the gift of life," says Cline-Bear.  Typically this is the lowest blood donation time of the year and since they're not accepting female plasma right now, they need men to make up the difference.

Places like ZLB Plasma will still be accepting plasma as usual - those units aren't sent to hospitals for transfusion in sick individuals, but are used for other purposes including testing or developing medication.