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Blood Money: Donating Plasma

Donating plasma is an easy way to make money to help pay down debts, fund an emergency savings fund, fund a sinking fund or even to save for retirement. It surely isn’t for everyone though. If you are freaked out by needles there’s no way you will get into donating plasma.

In case you didn’t know, plasma is the part of your blood in which the red and white blood cells are suspended. It makes up 55% of your total blood volume and consists of 93% water as well as clotting factors, glucose, dissolved proteins, hormones, mineral ions, and carbon dioxide.

Since plasma contains the blood clotting factors it is very useful in surgery and other situations where blood clotting needs to be maximized (such as the disease hemophilia). It is also used extensively with burn patients who lose a great deal of plasma, even during their healing process. Oh and it is also used in the cosmetics industry.

I haven’t donated plasma in several decades, but I remember well donating plasma twice a week for several semesters when I was in college. I don’t have an aversion to needles so it was no big deal and for a poor college student it was an easy way to get pizza money. Back in the day they were paying just $10 for each session, however thanks to inflation you will now get paid $20-25 for each donation of plasma. Some centers will pay more for the second donation of each week. Since you can donate twice per week and get paid more for the second donation you have the potential to make up to $260 a month.

The process is pretty straightforward and takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes, although your first visit will take 2-3 hours to complete all the paperwork and screening. You will need a valid picture ID, your Social Security number and proof of address (utility bill, rental agreement, cable bill). You also need to be at least 18 years old and must weigh over 110 pounds.

Most plasma centers will have you reclining during the process and you can spend the time watching TV or reading. I actually found it to be a nice, quiet, relaxing time and would look forward to my quiet plasma time.

A needle is inserted into your arm and whole blood is extracted. The whole blood gets processed to separate the plasma from the other blood components and these uncollected components are returned to you in a saline solution to make up for the plasma volume. The collection is as you would expect if you’ve ever donated blood, but the return is a bit strange because the fluid is colder than your blood and body temperature. It can feel really strange until you get used to it.

There are plasma donation centers located all across America and even worldwide. The Plasma Proteins Therapeutic Association has a good search engine you can use to locate a donation center near you.

As I said in the beginning, donating plasma is not for everyone. If you do decide to use this money making technique though you can also feel good knowing that your plasma will help save lives and treat diseases that might otherwise go untreated. How often do you get the chance to combine altruism with a money making venture? And if you are really interested in plasma donation you could even consider getting trained as a phlebotomist (the people who are responsible for drawing blood) and work part time at a plasma donation center.

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