White, sterile, and clean on the inside. Hardly what you would expect from looking at the grungy, sand-colored exterior of the Talecris Plasma Resource Center.
“It reminds me of a war hospital,” said freshman Debra Olson, who planned on donating her plasma.
Dozens of beds line the walls with a few large flat-screened TV’s in between. The beds are full of a colorful array of donors, sitting quietly, tubes in their arms, waiting to give their fill of plasma and receive the money they will earn for it. It’s not much, only around $40 or so, but it is definitely an incentive to donate.
Plasma, the yellowish-clear liquid portion of one’s blood, donation is a growing phenomenon, especially among the college community, mainly because of the cash incentive. There are some ethical debates about donating something from one’s body for money, but many do it anyway.
“It felt sort of creepy,” said Van Gilder resident director Cory Ellison, “that I was selling a part of me and sometimes when I looked at the rows of people being bled I was reminded of cows being milked and it felt very de-humanizing for some reason.”
Donating is especially popular because the donors can go into their nearest plasma center up to twice a week, earning an average of $60 – $80 or so a week.
But not everyone can donate. Donors must be at least 18, weigh at least 110 pounds, have proof of address that they are living within 40 miles of the center where they will be donating, provide a social security card, identification, and, of course, have good veins. Fresh tattoos and piercings aren’t allowed.
Donors must also complete medical information and pass a medical examination. While this all seems like a tedious process, the good news is, once they are completed and have done it the first time, any other time they want to go in the donor can simply make an appointment for the day of and wait their turn.
Plasma is important and in such high demand because it helps assist with blood clotting and is used to help hemophiliacs and others who experience coagulation problems. Plasma is also needed for many burn victims and to help create treatments for those suffering from immune system attacks. Plasma regenerates itself quickly, which is why it can be donated so often.
Donating plasma is a longer, more tedious process than donating blood, but for the money, it seems worth it to many college students.
It doesn’t take that long after the first time. And once you get going at it, it’s a pretty good source of some extra pocket cash.
“I sold plasma to make some extra money while I was looking for work,” commented Ellison. They center which he donated at in Portland paid him $40 for the first visit in a week and $60 for the second. They also gave him an extra $50 for the 6th time in a month.
A person can give plasma . . .” he explained, “up to twice in a 7 day period as long as there are 48 hours between the appointments.”