How Does Plasma Treat Shock?

Donated plasma is a therapeutic tool used to treat many medical conditions, including cancer, blood disorders, liver failure, infections, and life-threatening situations such as shock.

Plasma transfusions play an important role in preventing and treating shock by promoting blood clotting and boosting blood volume. Learn more about how donated plasma treats trauma and shock.

What Is Shock?

Shock is a critical condition often resulting from rapid blood loss, trauma, severe burns, serious infections, allergic responses (anaphylaxis), or cardiac issues. It occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow, leading to inadequate oxygen and nutrient delivery to vital organs.

Circulatory shock leads to cellular and tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen) resulting in cellular death and vital organ dysfunction. Effects of shock are reversible in the early stages. Delayed diagnosis and/or timely initiation of treatment can lead to irreversible changes, including multiorgan failure (MOF) and death.

What Are the Symptoms of Shock?

The symptoms of shock vary and depend on the underlying cause of shock but may include:

  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Bluish lips or fingers
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Rapid, weak, or absent pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sudden fainting
  • Changed mental state (e.g., confusion or disorientation)
  • Decreased urine output

How Donated Plasma Treats Trauma and Shock

Plasma treatments are primarily used for hemorrhagic shock, a condition caused by severe blood loss, often resulting from traumatic injuries (e.g., motor vehicle accidents).

Hemorrhagic shock is life-threatening. A sudden loss of a large volume of blood deprives the body of oxygen, leading to potential organ failure and death unless quickly and properly treated.

Trauma victims with severe blood loss can rapidly progress to shock—often within 3-6 hours following their injury. Early treatment of hemorrhagic shock with blood products, including plasma, is critical.

Packed red blood cells (PRBC) from donors are often transfused into the veins of trauma victims. Evidence shows infusing plasma in addition to PRBCs significantly increases the chance of survival.

How Does Plasma Help With Trauma?

Plasma’s clotting factors are essential in preventing further blood loss and stabilizing trauma patients.

Traumatic injuries can lead to severe blood loss and a cascade of complications. Coagulopathy, or the inability of blood to clot properly, can occur. This can lead to an inflammatory response, which causes the lining of blood vessels to leak fluid out of the vascular space and into the tissues.

Hemorrhagic shock can spiral quickly and become fatal without rapid intervention. Emergency responders can significantly improve outcomes by transfusing plasma to traumatic injury victims on-site. One study showed a substantially lower mortality rate at the 24-hour and 30-day marks for people who received plasma before hospital arrival.

Plasma helps treat trauma and shock in several ways. In addition to adding crucial fluid volume to the blood vessels, plasma, which contains important clotting factors, may help to correct coagulopathy and reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Certain plasma components may also help maintain the lining of the blood vessels, preventing fluid from leaking through vessel walls.

Your Plasma Donations Make a Difference

Plasma cannot be created in a lab, making donations critical to meeting the demand for this life-changing resource. Your donations have the power to change the lives of trauma victims and those suffering from many other illnesses and disorders.

We encourage you to consider donating plasma at PlasmaSource. Our highly trained experts work to ensure that your donation experience is streamlined and safe.

Learn more about our plasma donation process, and contact us to schedule an appointment.