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Donating Blood Plasma for Pay: My Personal Experience and What You Can Expect

Karen is a free-lance writer and artist with a special interest in beginner investing and our American political landscape


An Unusual and Helpful Way to Earn Some Extra Money

If you are like many of us, you are interested in finding new ways to bring some extra cash into your household. Maybe you want to put some money aside for holidays, vacations, pay off credit cards, or start a savings account.

If you already have a job, and especially if you work full time, finding the time and energy to put into another money-making endeavor can be difficult.

I became interested in donating blood plasma (they call it donating although you are paid) when I saw a new location open in our community. Curious, I looked online to see what it was all about and whether it was an opportunity worth exploring further.

I discovered that blood plasma donations are crucial for hospitals and clinics, and they are in constant need of this for their patients. The donated plasma is used for trauma patients, burn patients, children with cancer, as well as people with blood disorders such as hemophilia.

Since this seemed like a way to make some money and also help people in the process, I decided to go ahead and become a donor.

Beginning the Process of Donating Bood Plasma

Step one is to choose which facility in your area is right for you, if there is more than one. I chose the facility closest to me. It has very early hours beginning at 6:00 am on some days and is open until 7:00 pm certain evenings. Some donation centers require appointments but this one didn't. This flexibility is an important option if you are already working the day you donate.

My second step was making an account with my chosen donation center. This is done on the company website, but some facilities can do this for you at the location. The website explained what the qualifications are and what to bring with me. There are age and weight parameters and a health screening to be sure you are eligible and healthy enough to donate. You will need to bring ID, a recent piece of mail with correct address, and proof of social security number. The website explained the donation process and answered a lot of questions I had about what to expect and how the payment process worked.

The fee paid to donors varies considerably with each company and their current needs. At the facility I donated, first time donors receive $100.00 each visit for the first eight visits, as long as the eighth visit is within 45 days of the initial donation. After that, payment is $50.00 per donation. The payments are put on a debit card that is given at the initial visit.

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The First Visit. What it Was Like Going Through the Donation Process

When I first arrived at the donation center, I was greeted at the desk, showed them my proper ID and paperwork, and they looked my name up in their system since I had signed up online. After this, I gave an electronic fingerprint for their records, and this is part of the check in process each time.

After verifying all of my information I was asked questions regarding my medications and current health status. Next was a video consent to watch and sign off on, followed by a health questionnaire at a computer kiosk that delves deeper into personal health history, habits and behaviors such as previous drug usage, etc.

Next came an examination with a nurse that all first-time donors must have. This was to check heart, lungs, reflexes and general health. I then got in line with other donors and waited for a vitals check. This is done with each donor every visit upon arrival. They check blood protein, blood pressure, pulse, and weight.

Once given the green light to proceed with the donation, I entered another line to wait to be placed in a bed for the procedure. There, I was told the rules for the process which is no eating, drinking, sleeping or talking on the phone while the donation process is ongoing. Most people looked through their phones or had headsets on for music while donating.

Next came the phlebotomist for the needle insertion which made me nervous but turned out to be only slightly worse than getting blood drawn for labs. As the blood is removed, the plasma is separated and your blood is then returned to you with some additional fluids to replace what is lost with the plasma. The process takes an average of forty five to 70 minutes. My first donation took fifty five minutes.

Once finished with the donation, The phlebotomist removed the needle and bandaged the area, checked me out on a hand held device which told how much money would be deposited on my debit card and what date I was eligible to return. There is a forty eight hour mandatory wait between donations and two donations per week maximum. This is standard industry wide.

In all, my first visit at the plasma donation center was three hours. I recommend planning that much time for the first visit due to the preliminary new donor check in process and health examination. My second donation visit was about ninety minutes start to finish.

Important Points to Remember About Donating Blood Plasma

  • The check in process can be lengthy depending on how many donors are there that day. Some days it takes less time of course, but there is no way to be sure so plan on ample time. My donation center has an app that allows you to answer the health questionnaire prior to arriving. This will save time.
  • You will need to fully hydrate the day before the donation and immediately afterward. This can prevent fatigue following the process. Some facilities offer some water and a snack after donating, mine does not.
  • The beds are not particularly comfortable, and you will have your feet elevated the entire time. Additionally, your arm will be in an outstretched position wrist up throughout the process.
  • You will be instructed how to squeeze your fist repeatedly at points of the process. This is difficult if your fingernails are even a little bit long. I recommend a foam or exercise ball to squeeze. I used a pair of soft gloves folded together to squeeze at my return visit and it helped greatly.
  • My donation time has dropped from fifty-five to forty-five minutes by drinking a lot of water the day before and pumping my fist more during the process.

Will I or Won't I Continue to Donate Plasma?

The answer is yes, I will continue. Although it can be a bit time consuming and not the most comfortable or easy process, it still proves to be a good way to make some extra money and be helpful to my local health community in the process. In addition, since I have my vitals checked at each visit, I stay informed on any blood pressure and weight changes, and this is tracked on my phone app.

If you are interested in becoming a blood plasma donor, do your personal research to see if this is a good option for you. There are never any obligations, so if you give only one time you have earned some cash and helped people in the process!

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