Can you make money donating plasma?
Unlike red blood, where you can't make money donating blood, you can often get paid lots of money to donate plasma.
Donating plasma is a more involved procedure. It takes more time, is less pleasant than donating red blood, so they make up for it by paying you money.
Blood plasma is the clear liquid part of the blood. It contains water, some enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. They use it to create products that can help folks with blood clotting disorders and other diseases.
The plasma donation process takes about an hour and a half and you can make between $20 to $50 per donation.
To get just the clear liquid part:
- Your blood is drawn,
- the plasma is separated,
- and the blood is returned to your body.
Here's the big kicker — you're not donating to the Red Cross anymore. You're donating to a business. They will sell your plasma to companies that turn them into products. It's only fair they compensate you for the time and your plasma, right?
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Who Is Eligible to Donate Plasma?
Generally speaking, you need to be 18-69 years old and over 110 pounds.
Local and state laws may override center requirements. For example, in Nebraska, you must be 19 years or older or produce written consent.
Each company will have its own donation requirements, from weight to age to general health, but you can check their website for specifics. If you are in good health, you're generally eligible. Many of the eligibility rules follow that of red blood donation. If you have any recent piercings or tattoos, you may not eligible.
How Long Does It Take?
The first time you visit will take longer than future visits. The first donation will take around two hours because you'll need to fill out paperwork. Return donation visits should only take around an hour and a half.
If you are larger, the process will take a little longer because you'll be donating more plasma (and be paid more).
How Much Do You Get Paid?
The compensation varies based on you and how often you donate.
A lot of plasma donation centers run promotions where you get paid more if you donate more often. For example, ADMA BioCenters in Atlanta has a coupon for an extra $5 on your first donation and pay more if you have a special antibody (Anti-D).
It feels a little weird, seeing coupons and promotions on a blood plasma donation site, but that's how this world works.
You're not in the charitable arena of the Red Cross anymore, these are businesses and so are you.
You can expect to be paid anywhere from $20 to $50 per donation. The range in compensation is related to the volume of plasma you're able to donate. The FDA sets the guidelines and the ranges are 110-149 pounds, 150-174 pounds, and 175-400 pounds. The more poundage, the more plasma, and the more cash you're paid.
Most places will pay you via a debit card to make the payment process smoother.
How often can you donate? This will vary from place to place, the American Red Cross only lets you donate once every 28 days. Private centers will let you donate up to twice in 7 days with at least one day in between. That's how they come up with figures like “make $300 a month” from donating plasma.
Are There Side Effects & Risks?
Donating plasma is a relatively safe and well-understood process but some people can experience side effects after donating plasma. Many of these side effects are similar to donating red blood cells.
Since the process involves needles, some donors can experience bruising and/or tenderness at the needle injection site. There may be swelling, discoloration, or pain but should generally subside relatively quickly. Donors can also react to the disinfectant being used to clean the site, often iodine.
Since the process removes plasma fluid from the body, some donors can experience dizziness or feel faint. It's a reaction to the stress on the body and the loss of blood volume. You can prepare to mitigate this by ensuring you drink plenty of fluids ahead of time but it's not a fool proof preparation.
Less common is a citrate reaction. Citrate is used as an anticoagulant so that your blood doesn't clot during the collection process. Donors can react to the it and it often presents itself as a tingling feeling in the fingers or around the nose and mouth.
In more severe cases, it can cause shivering, a rapid or slowing pulse, twitching and shortness of breath.
Look for First Time Donor Coupons
Blood plasma is a competitive business.
You may be able to find a first-time donor coupon to increase your payout (at least the first few times).
For example, here's an old coupon from BioLife Plasma Services, valid only at their Ammon, ID location:
Here's a more recent one from CSL Plasma that expired in January:
You may be able to get higher than typical payouts, but not always.
How to Find a Plasma Donation Center Near Me
The FDA inspects plasma donation centers for compliance with laws but the FDA doesn't manage them. They're run by companies so there's no central clearinghouse, you need to just search for a local one near you, confirm it's in compliance, and then see which one makes it worth your while.
Here are the major companies with many locations across the United States:
Octapharma Plasma has over a hundred locations spread out across the United States, chances are you'll be able to find one of their plasma donation centers near you. The website is a little strange in that there are locations without hours or contact information, so they may be closed or future locations.
Octapharma Plasma pays with a prepaid debit card and payments for future donations will be put on that card. Pay varies by location.
They are even advertising a February Frequency Bonus and a $250 New Donor bonus on the website. In the month of February, you can earn extra if you donate more often. The bonus varies from location to location so check to see what the local promotion is.
Grifols has over a hundred locations across the United States under a variety of names. You can search for Grifols, Talecris Plasma Resources, and Biomat USA. It depends on where in the U.S. you're located.
Grifols pays with a prepaid debit card as well.
CSL Plasma has locations in 39 states and oftentimes many locations within a state. Alabama, for example, has four locations (Auburn, Birmingham, and two in Montgomery). They say new donors can earn up to $400.
Grifols pays with a reloadable prepaid card and has an iGive Rewards Program where you can earn points and redeem them for different rewards.
DonatingPlasma.org isn't itself a plasma donation company but a website set up by the donation industry to help educate and inform potential donors. They also have a plasma center search tool that will find a plasma donation center near you from their list of 450+ locations.
Search for reviews of the centers and see what others are saying, then pick one that works for you.
What Should You Bring?
Proof of address, a valid photo ID and proof of your Social Security Number. Your name must exactly match on those documents. Proof of address can be what's on your photo ID.
In preparing, make sure you eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids.
What is the Donation Process Like?
My blogging friend Melissa Blevins has donated plasma and shares her experiences with the plasma donation process: (below is just a small excerpt, read her entire post for the full details)
During the blood plasma donation exam, you’ll be moved to an exam room where a staff member will ask several questions about your medical history and any tattoos, brandings, and/or piercings you have currently or have gotten in the past 12 months.
They clean the injection site with iodine, and they insert a needle for the plasmapheresis process (extracting your blood, separating the plasma, and putting your blood back into your body).
The needle feels exactly like an IV. It only hurts if they can’t get a vein, blow a vein, or you wiggle around a lot during the process.
I suggest taking one of these stress balls to squeeze so that your flow isn’t interrupted and you’re able to complete the process faster.
Sounds just like donating red blood.
You Can Donate Plasma for Free
Does the idea of selling plasma for money irk you? Do stories of people selling plasma for money leave a bad taste in your mouth? No problem – you can donate it for free if you want.
The American Red Cross collects plasma too and will let you donate every 28 days. Just call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.
Is Donating Plasma Ethical?
As an aside, I've been asked whether I think donating plasma is ethical.
Yes, it's perfectly ethical.
It's your blood, your time, and you should do whatever you want with it. I've heard stories of people earning a nice supplemental income donating plasma and paying off their debts with it.
Have you donated plasma?