Plasmapheresis is the process of separating plasma, the liquid part of blood, from other blood components. This procedure is done on healthy people when they donate plasma, but since such a small amount is removed, no replacement is necessary. When plasmapheresis is therapeutic, the process removes substances from the blood that are causing harm. The treatment requires the removal of large volumes of plasma, and the patient often receives donated plasma in exchange.
Plasma is the liquid part of the blood. It makes up about 55 percent of the total blood volume and is made up of salts, proteins, and water absorbed in the GI tract. Plasma helps with clotting, removing waste products, regulating body temperature, and maintaining the acid-base balance. It also protects against bacteria and viruses, transports nutrients, and carries oxygen. Physicians must consider all of these factors when determining whether a patient is eligible for plasmapheresis.
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