Plasma donation is a vital part of healthcare, supplying essential components for life-saving treatments. Unfortunately, it is much less well-known than whole blood donation, resulting in an increased need for plasma collections to keep up with growing demands. At the 2022 Symposium on Plasma Collection and Supply, hosted by the International Plasma and Fractionation Association and the European Blood Alliance, experts shared their knowledge and experiences on how to boost plasma donations in Europe. Eva-Maria Merz and Marloes Spekman contributed to the symposium as moderator and speaker, respectively.
Marloes presented the game-changing initiative that took shape in the Netherlands in 2020: The opening of the Powerbank. The Powerbank is a proof-of-concept plasma-only donation centre in Utrecht. The Powerbank stands out because, unlike the traditional image of a donation centre, The Powerbank is strategically located in a highly visible place: a shopping mall. Additionally, it looks and feels less clinical, and the (pre-)donation process is redesigned to collect plasma more efficiently. This innovation redefines the accessibility and approachability of plasma donation, designed to create a warm and welcoming experience for new and experienced donors alike.
A survey conducted among plasma donors at the Powerbank and a nearby traditional donation centre presented interesting insights. The Powerbank attracted a similar, yet slightly younger donor base, with a slightly higher proportion of actively working donors and fewer students and retirees. Additionally, qualitative focus group discussions with donors at the Powerbank resulted in mostly positive sentiments. Donors praised the ambiance and atmosphere created at the Powerbank as well as its accessibility, service level, food options, efficiency, and innovative loyalty program. The proceedings of the symposium (including a summary of Marloes’ presentation) can be found here.
After two years of the Powerbank, in turbulent times, many innovations were tested and important lessons were learned. In this report (only available in Dutch) Marloes and colleagues explain what was tested at the Powerbank over the past 2 years and what this has actually achieved for the organization and for its donors and its employees.
In conclusion, the Powerbank's journey has shed light on a promising path forward for plasma donation. The Powerbank and its proof-of-concept nature have the potential to inspire blood banks worldwide to adopt innovative and accessible approaches to plasma collection. Ultimately, the research on the POP-project has not reached its end yet. We are excited to share new findings in upcoming research reports such as an analysis of the loyalty programs’ effects and a more detailed characterization of the Powerbank’s donor population.