Plasma

Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) also known as plasma, is the blood component made once all the blood cells are removed from whole blood. It is used to replace missing or low levels of blood proteins in a range of medical and surgical situations.

What is plasma?

Plasma is the pale yellow liquid part of blood. It makes up about 55% of blood and is 92% water. It is stored frozen and thawed when needed. Fresh frozen plasma is the blood component made once all the blood cells are removed from whole blood.

What is the role of plasma in the body?

Plasma is a fluid that carries red cells, white cells, platelets, proteins and nutrients through the blood vessels in the body.

Plasma contains:

  • attack molecules called antibodies to fight infections
  • clotting proteins to help stop bleeding
  • albumin, an important protein which stops water leaking out of the blood vessels and protects nutrients, hormones and some medications.

Why might I need a plasma transfusion?

You may need a plasma transfusion to replace missing or low levels of blood proteins due to:

  • a medical condition such as liver disease
  • heart surgery
  • severe blood loss.

Are there options other than a plasma transfusion?

There are a number of alternative fluids and individual antibodies, albumin and clotting proteins that can replace the need to use fresh frozen plasma in some patients. Alternatives to a transfusion are used whenever possible, but fresh frozen plasma is used when there are no alternatives or when a patient needs replacement of more than one plasma protein.

Learn more about avoiding a transfusion and having a transfusion.