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The Intricacies of Freezing Fresh Plasma

Fresh Frozen Plasma, or FFP, is an acronym well known in the blood and plasma donation world. Marked by controversy, empirical therapy, wastefulness, and multiple scientific studies (type ”Fresh Frozen Plasma” into Google and you will find a front page of results littered with studies and papers), FFP is a topic that we recently came into contact with at a seminar for blood bank storage.

First, a little background on the storing of donated human blood and plasma:

When blood or plasma is donated by someone, it is must be kept cold until it is used by a patient in need. Blood banks, transfusion facilities, and hospitals are usually in charge of storing blood and plasma, and monitoring the temperature at which it needs to be stored at. Here are a few requirements for blood and plasma storage:

Whole Blood & Red Blood Cells: 1-6C

Plasma & Cryoprecipitated AHF: -18C of colder

Platelets: Gentle Agitation, at 20-24C

Granulocytes: 20-24C

Pretty specific stuff. The storage temperature that stands out to us at Dickson, is the proper storage temperatures for Plasma & Cryoprecipitated AHF, as these two need to be kept very, very cold.

Quick Note: Plasma can be stored below -18C for up to a year at a hospital, blood bank, or transfusion facility.

Back to our FFP. Fresh Frozen Plasma is the result of a process that includes centrifuging, separating, and freezing plasma within 8 hours of collection. We’re no doctors, but it seems that patients ”get more” with Fresh Frozen Plasma than with regular plasma, including proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are similar to those concentrations in circulation within the body. The interesting, and difficult part of this process is getting the FFP through all those steps within the 8-hour time span.

As temperature monitoring experts, getting something that comes out of one’s body at 98F down to -18C is a task that must be undertaken by a good freezer. Furthermore, Plasma collectors want to avoid going below -30C during their freezing process. If plasma is stored below -30C, international regulations state that clotting factors and inhibitors may get out of whack.

Plasma is an interesting part of the cold chain process, one that we can’t wait to learn more about.