Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma?

By | April 9, 2023
Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma

I remember wondering to myself when I went for plasma donation for the first time Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma?

I mean, I knew they were going to stick a needle in my arm, but why were they so interested in my elbows?

As it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason for it, and understanding why can help you be a better donor.

In this article, I’ll explain why those elbow checks are so important.

Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma?

Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma

Medical staffs check elbows during plasma donation because the cephalic and basilic veins, used to draw blood during plasma donation, are located there. They examine these veins and the skin for cuts or bruises to ensure a safe donation process.

Have you been wondering if plasma donation can give you scars? Check my post on Does Donating Plasma Leave Scars to get the appropriate answer.

How is the Elbow Check Done When Donating Plasma?

To perform an elbow check when donating plasma, the medical staff will follow these steps:

  1. Roll up your sleeves to expose your elbows.
  2. Clean the area around your elbow with an antiseptic.
  3. Increase blood flow around the elbow by applying a tourniquet to your upper arm.
  4. Examine the veins in your elbows to ensure they can handle the donation process.
  5. Check your elbows for cuts, bruises, and other injuries.
  6. Determine if you are eligible to donate plasma after checking your skin condition.

If you are worried about long term risks, check out this article on Long Term Side Effects of Donating Plasma Regularly.

What is the Role of the Elbow Check in the Plasma Screening Process

The elbow check is an essential step in the plasma screening process. It involves examining the condition of the cephalic and basilic veins in the elbow and the skin around it. This ensures these veins are healthy and can handle the plasma donation process.

Any injury around the elbow area could pose a risk during donation. Therefore, by performing an elbow check, the medical staff can identify potential issues and take appropriate measures to prevent complications during the plasma donation process.

Location of Nerves in the Elbow

The three nerves running through the elbow are the ulnar, radial, and median. These nerves transmit signals that control movement and sensation in the arm and hand.

The ulnar nerve is located inside the elbow and the radial on the outer part. The median nerve runs through the middle of the elbow.

What Are the Risks of Nerve Damage During Plasma Donation Process

What Are the Risks of Nerve Damage During Plasma Donation Process

The risks of nerve damage during plasma donation include:

  • Pain in the arm
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Reduced range of motion in the arm and hand
  • Permanent disability (rare)

Do you get tired after donating plasma? Check my post on Does Donating Plasma Make You Tired to discover why.

Risks Associated With Plasma Donation

The potential risks associated with plasma donation include the following:

  • Infection: Plasma donation has a risk of infection, as with any medical procedure that involves needles.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people react to anticoagulants used during donation. So, if you are allergic to any medication, inform the medical staff before donation.
  • Dehydration: Donating plasma can lead to dehydration. Drinking plenty of water during donation will help you stay hydrated.
  • Low blood pressure: Plasma donation can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure, making some people feel dizzy. Always lie down during t donation and avoid standing up quickly afterward.
  • Injuries: These are common side effects of needle insertion, but they usually go away afterward.
  • Nerve damage: This occurs if the elbow is not handled properly during donation. If you experience discomfort or pain during or after the donation, notify the medical staff immediately.

Check out this article on Risks of Donating Plasma to learn more.

Screening Process in Plasma Donation

  • Registration: The first step of the screening process for plasma donation includes filling out a form. The registration form contains your personal information, name and date of birth.
  • Medical history: You are to provide details about your medical history. This includes a history of medications or any medical condition you have.
  • Physical examination: A medical staff will perform a physical examination on you. This is done to determine your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.
  • Laboratory tests: Blood samples will be taken to ensure you are eligible to donate plasma. These tests include HIV and hepatitis screening.
  • Review of eligibility: A medical professional will review your medical history and laboratory results after the laboratory tests to determine if you can donate plasma.
  • Elbow check: Before the actual donation process, the medical staff will perform an elbow check to ensure that your veins are suitable for plasma donation.
  • Plasma donation: If you are eligible and your veins are suitable, you will proceed with the plasma donation process. A medical professional will insert a needle into your arm to collect the plasma.

Importance of Donor Safety in Plasma Donation

Donor safety helps protect donors from potential risks and ensures a positive experience during the donation process. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma

The frequently asked questions about Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma are as follows:

Is the Elbow Check Painful during plasma donation?

The elbow check during plasma donation may cause some discomfort, but it is typically not painful. The healthcare professional will check the veins in your elbow to ensure they are suitable for plasma donation.


I hope you now know Why Do They Check Your Elbows When Donating Plasma? It is because it helps ensure donor safety and prevent potential nerve damage.

While it may cause discomfort, plasma donation is generally not painful. Plasma donation plays a crucial role in providing life-saving treatments to patients.