Have you ever donated blood? This small, selfless act does an immeasurable service to the recipient and can even save their life. Plasma donations work the same way; only you can donate plasma for money.
Before donating plasma for extra money, you need to understand the process involved. Read on to find out more.
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Donating blood or plasma is like giving “the gift of life.” It is one of the most honorable ways of helping a fellow human. Although both processes seem pretty similar at first glance, they greatly vary in several ways.
Blood is the red bodily fluid composed of red and white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. It supplies oxygen and essential nutrients to the cells. It also removes waste materials like lactic acid and carbon dioxide from the body.
As for plasma, it is the clear, liquid component making up almost 55% of the total blood. Plasma primarily consists of water and supplies minerals, nutrients, hormones, and proteins to all body parts. It also contains antibodies required to fight infections and proteins, such as albumin and fibrinogen, essential to maintain serum osmotic pressure.
Once you understand the medical differences in composition between the two, the next point of differentiation is the donation process.
Blood donations are straightforward and take less than 8-10 minutes. The process starts by cleansing the area on the donor’s arm, inserting a sterile needle, and drawing blood. Usually, one blood donation entails a pint of blood.
On the contrary, when you donate plasma, the process takes up to 50 minutes. The donor’s blood is drawn via a sterile needle, and the blood is separated from cells. The separation process occurs in something called an apheresis machine.
Whole blood can be stored in a refrigerator at 6 degrees Celsius for up to 42 days. It is used for blood transfusions to treat patients suffering from anemia, cancer, and blood disorders. It is also used in emergencies, including organ transplants, surgery, and childbirth.
Donated plasma is frozen within 24 hours to preserve its value, and it can easily be stored for up to a year and thawed when needed. It is given to burn, trauma, and shock patients. Plasma can also be used for patients with chronic diseases and disorders, multiple clotting factor deficiencies, genetic lung diseases, and severe liver diseases.
Plasma boosts the patient’s blood volume, preventing shock and assisting with clotting.
In general, plasma donors must be between the ages of 18 and 65 and weigh at least 110 pounds. Before being eligible to donate plasma, a donor needs to pass two medical examinations:
- Testing for transmissible viruses
- A medical history screening
Before donating, the donor must:
- Test negative for transmissible viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis
- Have suitable veins and regular pulse
- Not be pregnant
- Drink sufficient fluids to avoid dehydration post-donation
- Have a healthy diet including at least over 50 grams of daily protein
- Notify the staff if they had a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months
- Tell the medical staff if they have recently undergone a surgery
- Tell the staff about any ongoing medication
- Inform the staff if you’re participating in a medical clinical trial
You are not eligible to donate plasma if you have:
- Cancer history
- Heart conditions
- Had organ transplants
- Hepatitis B or C carriers
- Received platelets, blood, or plasma after 1979
- Tested positive for HTLV or HIV
- Injected non-prescribed drugs, including tanning and bodybuilding agents
Once the donor passes the screening and receives test results meeting the criteria, they receive the status of a qualified donor and are eligible to donate.
While all of us agree that people who donate plasma contribute to a noble cause, some industry practices do not guarantee consumer safety. This risk is notably greater in poverty-stricken communities that lie about their health history to get paid for donating.
Keeping that in mind, let’s discuss some pros and cons of donating plasma to understand the industry’s commendable aspects and shortcomings.
- A Noble Act. In the US alone, over 125,000 patients benefit from plasma donation annually. It is administered to patients with burns, shocks, or leukemia. Plasma can also treat patients who have undergone severe injuries or surgery. Donating plasma helps save countless lives.
- Financially Helpful to the Donors. Plasma donations also benefit the donors, and it’s a fantastic odd job for many students. Typically, the compensation for donating plasma is $50 to $75 per appointment. This amount might seem insignificant but goes a long way in covering the basic needs of those struggling to make ends meet.
- Regular Donation Improves Health. This statement might sound a bit bizarre, but a scientific study revealed that recurring plasma donation has remarkable benefits to the donor’s health. It improves blood pressure, lowers the risk of heart attacks, renews the circulatory system, and enables the body to produce fresh blood.
Not just that, the donor undergoes a rigorous screening that allows them to determine their current health status and early signs of any diseases.
- Immediate Effects on the Body. Plasma donors may expect dehydration or fatigue right after donating. The donors are also at risk of reduced plasma levels for a short period.
- Uncomfortable Process. Contrary to blood donation, plasma donation can be pretty uncomfortable. There is often a long waiting line for donors at plasma donation centers, and crowded places can be unbearable for many.
- Risky For Donors and Recipients. This disadvantage is only applicable when centers deliberately bypass the screening process and take donations even when the donor has health issues. Yet, since this is totally unethical and jeopardizes both the donor’s and recipient’s health, it’s highly unlikely to occur.
Donating plasma is a safe process and does not threaten the donor’s health. In a typical plasma center, donors undergo strict screening to ensure they are eligible to donate. The process occurs in certified collection centers, performed by well-trained medical professionals in a controlled and sterile environment.
The laboratory tools and equipment are examined for sanitation, safety, and functionality. The needles are sterilized, and all the equipment that comes in contact with the donor is used only once to avoid transmitting diseases and ensure safety for all.
As long as there’s no mishandling of the equipment, the donor takes all the precautions before donating, and the screening is accurate, donating plasma is entirely safe.
Usually, the compensation is based on your location and weight. The more you weigh, the more you donate, and the more you make.
Mostly, the compensation is between $50 to $75 per appointment, and first-time donors can get bonuses. As long as you pass the screening process, how often you donate plasma for money is entirely up to you.
So, now you want to know whether plasma donation is an under-the-table job or taxable.
As with most tax questions, the answer isn’t black or white. There are many discussions about it. On the one hand, the argument is that your donation is a non-cash gift and shouldn’t be reported as taxable income. On the other hand, many donors insist that income is taxable.
If you want a definitive answer on this, don’t take online discussions as legit tax advice and consult with your accountant instead.
There are multiple plasma donation centers located across the US. You can find the nearest center here by entering your city and postal code.
Here are some of the centers where you can donate plasma in the US:
You can donate plasma more frequently than you can donate whole blood. According to the American Red Cross, donors can give plasma up to 13 times a year, or every 28 days. However, most plasma donation centers follow the regulations issued by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which allow donors to donate once every two days or twice in seven days.
As long as you are healthy and pass the screening, donating blood for plasma has no side effects. However, some donors experience fatigue, bleeding, bruising, and dehydration. You might also feel lightheaded and dizzy after donating plasma.
It is indisputable that donating plasma is a valuable social contribution since it helps save lives. Moreover, being rewarded for your donation contributes to your own financial well-being.
Make sure that plasma donation is suitable for you by undergoing the screening process thoroughly. No amount of money or social karma points should make your own health take a back seat.
This article originally appeared on My Work From Home Money.