I decided to try out giving plasma
While my wife has donated whole blood several times (she even has a “1 gallon donor” mug), I’ve never been much for that sort of thing. When I noticed a while back there was a BioLife plasma donation center not far from my house, I decided to check out their website to see how the whole plasma donation process works. I figured if I didn’t want to do it, maybe she would. However, when I found out that they actually pay people for their plasma, I knew then and there this was something I wanted to try out. The long and the short of it is you create an account on the site, check to see if you meet their eligibility requirements and finally make an appointment to donate. It’s a fairly easy process, but since it’s by appointment only so you’ll need to visit the website first if you want to try it out. You also need to be very okay with needles, obviously. (They’re 16 gauge...just FYI.)
10-step FIRST TIME plasma donation process with BioLife
1. Once you arrive at your scheduled appointment time, check in at the front and let them know it is your first time donating.
2. You will then have your vitals checked. They will check your weight, temperature, blood pressure, blood iron and protein levels. This is a step you do every time you donate, but it only takes a few minutes. The worst part of it is they prick your finger to get the blood sample, but is no different than when you donate whole blood.
3. You then have to move over to an open computer screen and take the long version of their questionnaire. The questions range from those that are required by the government for them to ask to making sure that you understand what you are about to do and what some of the potential side effects of donating. It takes about 25-30 minutes to complete.
4. After the questionnaire, the next step in the process is the interview/mini physical. They take you to a closed room to do a basic examination and ask you a few questions and/or clarify some of answers that you gave on the questionnaire.
5. Once you pass your basic physical, you see a phlebotomist to take a look at your veins to make sure that you can give that day.
6. You are now ready to donate your plasma. You get a color coded card that directs you to the section you will be donating. You go over and pick your seat and are usually hooked up within a few minutes.
7. The donation process usually takes about 40 - 60 minutes going between cycles of taking your plasma and returning your blood back to you.
8. Once your first donation is over you must wait 15 minutes to make sure you aren’t suffering from any side effects from giving your plasma. You will not have to wait after subsequent donations.
9. When your 15 minutes is finished you can get your debit card which they use to load up your payment every time you give plasma. You also have the opportunity to schedule your next appointment if you wish.
10. You need to wear the bandage on your arm for about 2 hours after you donate and they remind you to take it easy for a little bit. They also give you a saline solution during the final part of your donation to replenish your lost fluids, but it is still advisable to drink lots of water afterward to help get back to normal.
What were my impressions of BioLife and the donation process?
In short, I was very impressed with the entire donation process. The building was very clean and the entire staff was very knowledgeable and courteous. They explained the entire procedure thoroughly and they also had good literature going over other questions people might have about the donation process. They are a well-oiled machine and move people in and out of the building as quickly as possible.
Can you catch anything by donating plasma?
I know there are stories out there about people getting staph infections from some of these plasma donation places, but they must have occurred at locations other than BioLife. You get a brand new IV every single time you donate and they are required to clean the bench you were laying on before a new person can come and be hooked up to donate. I guess it is possible to catch something due to the shear volume of people that they service on a daily basis, but it really wasn’t a concern of mine.
(They don’t allow anyone to donate that appears to be at all sick. If you are coughing or running a temperature, you will be turned away.)
How frequently are you allowed to donate?
You are allowed to donate up to 2 times a week for a total of 8 times in a month. However, you must wait at least 24 hours in between donations. Apparently, your body can replace donated plasma very quickly due to it being about 90% water.
How much did I get paid?
They really want you to donate twice a week, so they attempt to incentivize it by giving you more money the 2nd time you donate (within the same Monday through Saturday week). They also sometimes offer a coupon on their website that gives an extra $20.00 on your 2nd donation.
So Far, I have been paid $20.00 on my first weekly visit and $40.00 on my second weekly visit for a total of $60.00 in one week. I have been told that they sometimes make the second visit $30.00 instead of $40.00 and enter you into a raffle for a large prize but that is rare and they usually do the $40.00 second visit.
Your money will be available for you to use by the time you leave the building. It is transferred to your account when you check out at the end of your visit.
The meat of the potatoes
Plasma donation isn’t going to be for everyone. If you hate the site of an open needle sticking in your arm, blood flowing out of and then back into your body along with the pain that can develop in your arms from donation, you might try it once and then be done with it. I seriously doubt that I will be donating twice a week, but I like the option of getting some quick cash open to me if I need to utilize it. The donated plasma is sold by BioLife for profit but ultimately is does enhance the lives of the recipients who need the various plasma therapies. I have no problem donating my plasma for profit. I might be a little biased though, since I would routinely give blood in my military days just for the rest of the day off.