The straw-colored liquid in the collection bottle is liquid gold for the patients who need its lifesaving properties -- and for your wallet. While regular plasma donations may take up to two hours per session, twice a week, your payment at the end of each donation can range from $15 to $50 or more, at the time of publication.
Locate a Plasma Center
Locate a plasma center by looking in the telephone book yellow pages under "Plasma." You can also perform a search online by using keywords such as "plasma" and your town's name or ZIP code. Plasma centers are often located in metropolitan areas, so if a local search fails to turn up a site, expand your search to the nearest large city.
The Monetary Compensation
Technically, you are not selling your plasma: The plasma center reimburses you for your time spent while donating. The amount varies, depending on your weight and the current value of the plasma. Donors weighing 110 to 149 pounds donate 690 ml of plasma, while donors 150 to 174 pounds donate 825 ml and donors over 175 pounds donate 880 ml. In 2014, payments ranged from $15 to $35 for the first donation of the week and $20 to $50 for the second donation in the same week. The payment is placed on a prepaid debit card after the donation is complete.
Plasma donation is strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Donors must be in good health, between 18 and 65 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, have a permanent address and meet the plasma center's screening requirements. The screening follows the same regulations as red blood cell donations. If there is a possibility of exposure to viruses such as HIV, hepatitis, bovine spongiform encephalopathy which is also known as mad cow disease, or ebola, you are not eligible for donation.
Before Every Visit
The day before a visit to the plasma center, eat iron-rich foods, such as beef, pork, spinach, kale, kidney or pinto beans, or enriched breads. Drink a glass of orange or tomato juice with each meal, as the vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron in the foods. It also helps hydrate your body, which ensures good blood volume. On donation day, drink several glasses of water and eat a hearty meal before you go to the plasma center.
The First Visit
On your first visit to the plasma center, bring a valid photo ID, your social security card and proof of residence, such as a rental agreement or recent utility bill. Plan to spend at least three hours. After verifying your identity and address, you will look at some printed materials and view a video. A nurse will then interview you, recording your height, weight, blood pressure, health history and medications. The plasma center may also record and photograph any tattoos and piercings.
Each time you go to the plasma center, screeners go over your health history, take your weight, temperature blood pressure and pulse, and measure your iron and protein counts. Some plasma centers have kiosks where you answer the health questions, then wait for a screener. After successfully passing the screening, you wait for a bed. The phlebotomist inserts the needle in your arm and hooks you up to the machine. Experienced donors bring a blanket and a book, although movies and wifi are generally available. After donating, eat a light meal and drink several glasses of water or juice. Avoid alcohol and tobacco for the rest of the day.
With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.