Various medical situations and emergencies call for the transport of Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) for patients with different conditions. One unit of fresh frozen plasma contains coagulation factors necessary for patients with coagulopathies who are bleeding or at risk for bleeding, and FFP units are also used during massive transfusions, cardiac bypass, and other surgical procedures. Therefore, it is important for blood banks, hospitals, and other scientific research laboratories and healthcare institutions to have the necessary equipment for thawing fresh frozen plasma once the need arises.
The plasma thawer is a specially-designed apparatus used for thawing fresh frozen plasma based on guidelines and standards set by associations of blood banks worldwide. The device uses a water bath in maintaining plasma units at the appropriate thawing temperatures of around 30 to 37 degrees Celsius. It includes a centralized microprocessor and temperature controller equipped with audio and visual alarm systems and is structurally designed to hold up to 4 units of plasma at a time.
The dangers of unregulated thawing procedures include decomposition of vital components. Exceeding temperature limits and rapid thawing may cause damage to plasma proteins, compromising the quality of the material and resulting in wastage of indispensable product for clinical analysis and commercial use in healthcare. The Plasma Thawer is thus an essential instrument in ensuring quality in preparation of fresh frozen plasma in hospitals and laboratories.
Apparatus and Equipment
The plasma thawer is a specially-designed device that makes use of a microprocessor temperature regulator in maintaining water baths at appropriate plasma-thawing temperatures of 30 to 37 degrees Celsius. It consists of two stainless steel baskets designed to hold a total of four bags of plasma at one time. The device can be set to carry out 0 to 60-minute cycles and is also equipped with audio and visual alarm systems. Designed to hold close to 5 gallons of water, the plasma thawer is the ideal equipment for thawing procedures. It also comes with overwrap bags for holding plasma units and a thermometer for keeping track of temperatures.
When using the water bath method, the thawing units of fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate, red blood cells, and other blood products must be at a temperature of 30 to 37-degree Celsius at around 15-18 minutes. After the plasma has been thawed or dissolved, the product must be used within 6 hours to avoid contamination. Some older studies of thawing procedures have found that water baths with higher temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius can still be considered a safe and effective environment for rapid thawing as long as the FFP units are immediately removed from the bath before thawing is complete (Plotz and Ziotola, 1988). But, the existing standards today are still the primary recommendation for use. The plasma thawer’s temperature set point is at 36 degree Celsius.
In laboratories and blood banks, it is required to thaw up to four units of fresh frozen plasma within 24 hours after phlebotomy or acquisition of material, for such purposes as an infusion into a patient. Plasma thawers are essential instruments for maintenance of the quality of plasma units for future use.
Strengths and Limitations
The plasma thawer is widely considered a useful tool in scientific research and medical care, providing a means for thawing plasma units following strictly set regulations. Compared to other instruments of the same purpose, one of the strengths of this plasma thawer is the number of plasma units that it can warm up at a time. The apparatus is also designed for convenient upkeep and maintenance, as well as easy cleaning of components such as the stainless steel baskets that hold the water baths, with the incorporation of a drain port.
- The plasma thawer is a specially-designed apparatus used for thawing Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) using water bath methods
- The device uses a water bath in maintaining plasma units at the appropriate thawing temperatures of around 30 to 37 degrees Celsius
- It includes a centralized microprocessor and temperature controller equipped with audiovisual alarm systems, and the device can be set to carry out 0 to 60-minute cycles
- The two stainless steel water baskets can hold up to a total of four bags of FFP
Kiechle, F. L., (2008). Q and A, Cap Today. Retrieved from http://www.captodayonline.com/Archives/cover_stories/0308_QA.html
Australian Red Cross (2018). Use of Fresh Frozen Plasma. Retrieved from https://transfusion.com.au/blood_products/components/plasma/use
Plotz, R. D., & Ciotola, R. T. (1988). Thawing of Fresh-Frozen Plasma at 45° C versus 37° C: Comparison Using Satellite Packs of the Same Donor Units. American journal of clinical pathology, 89(3), 381-384.