While it’s technically legal to get paid for donating your blood, you’re more likely to get a cookie for it, or maybe a tote bag. But donating plasma — the liquid portion of your blood — is a little different: the process involves more time but also pays better, and you can expect to take home $US50 –$US75 per session. Here’s what you need to know.
What is plasma exactly?
Blood plasma is the yellowish-clear part of your blood made up of water, enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. Plasma can be used to treat patients with trauma or burn injuries, severe liver disease, immune diseases, and hemophilia. When you donate plasma, blood is drawn from your arm and sent into a machine that separates your plasma, returning your red cells and platelets back to your body in a sterile saline solution that aids your body in replacing the removed plasma.
Plasma collected in the U.S. accounts for more than 70 per cent of the global supply, partly because it’s one of the few countries that pays for donations.
Who can donate plasma?
Not everyone. To donate, you have to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Weigh 50 kg or more
- Be in good health overall
- Undergo a physical exam by a medical professional prior to the donation and receive a blood test
As LendingTree points out, your eligibility might be impacted by personal health issues — if you have a history of HIV or other infectious diseases, you won’t be able to sell your plasma (check the American Red Cross’ full list of eligibility criteria on their website if you’re thinking about donating).
Another reason donating plasma pays is that it’s a more involved process compared to donating blood. Per Money.com, if it’s your first time donating plasma, expect it to take around two hours, as your health history will be reviewed and you’ll be given a comprehensive physical exam. Return visits usually take closer to an hour.
How much money can you make?
Each donation will earn you roughly $US50 ($64)–$US75 ($97), according to Money.Com. The price varies depends on where you are and how much you weigh, as larger people have more plasma to give. Donation centres typically pay you in the form of prepaid debit cards, and they might pay a little extra if you donate with them regularly or if you are donating for the first time (the plasma donation business is competitive, so you can definitely shop around).
The question of how often you can donate is rather contentious, however, as technically the FDA allows private companies to accept donations from the same person every few days. However, as The Atlantic has pointed out, overdoing it can lead to dehydration, fatigue and lightheadedness. Also, due to limitations in the body’s ability to regenerate plasma, studies show that too many repeat visits results in lower-quality plasma. This is why the Red Cross limits its plasma donations to just one every 28 days.
Where can you donate?
You can start by searching DonatingPlasma.org to find an International Quality Plasma Program (IQPP) certified donation centre near you (IQPP is quality-standard certification within the industry). You also can find donation centres near you through the following directories: