The Pros and Cons of Donating Plasma

by Charlotte on June 3, 2009 · 84 comments


Everyone knows one of these guys in college. You know, the guy who never has a job nor gets any cash from home and yet somehow manages to afford tuition and books? For me, it was my friend nicknamed – via the misguided use of voice recognition software – Barrel of Carrots. When I first met BoC, I spent a lot of time wondering how he managed to feed himself much less go skiing on an income of $0 (and no scholarship) while I was busting my butt working in a computer lab by day and waitressing at night just to be able to eat something besides Ramen. And then I helped him move. His belongings: one can of beer, a small cardboard box of clothing (with hangers still attached) and a backpack of personal items. So obviously the dude was frugal. “But how do you pay rent?” I puzzled as we made exactly one trip to his car. “You sell drugs or something?”

Giving me his characteristic grin, he answered, “I sell my plasma. Make $600 a month. Easiest money ever.”

That was the first time I’d heard of selling your plasma – the yellow liquidy part of your blood packed with antibodies, protiens and other goodies – for money. It came up again tonight in an entirely different setting. While one might expect a self-professed single college slacker guy to resort to selling his bodily fluids for money, tonight’s advice was brought to me courtesy of the Church Ladies.

Once a month the ladies at my church get together to learn something new, swap tips, chat and do some community service. Tonight’s theme was on living frugally (with everyone bringing clothing donations for a local charity) and one of the suggestions, sandwiched between “use coupons” and “budget with cash” was “sell plasma.” I almost fell off my chair. At first glance, it seemed like a bad idea to me. I mean, why am I paying good money for a gym membership and organic produce if I’m going to let someone suck my life juices out of me for $20 a pint?

I leaned over to my friend, “Crazy, right?”

“Like a fox! Where do I sign up?” she replied in all seriousness.

“Do you like needles?” I asked incredulously, thinking perhaps she just has a vampiric interest in getting poked.

“Hate needles,” she answered vehemently. “LOVE money.”

My friend, being generally not crazy (unless you count her inexplicable fondness for country music), made me think that maybe I’m just being closed minded.

How to Donate* Plasma
After searching around the ‘net a bit, I discovered that quite a lot of not-homeless and not-druggie people make good money donating plasma. Some people consider it a part time job. But how does one do it? First you find a center near you and there are plenty of helpful internet listings to help you do so. Once there you need to show two forms of ID, scan your fingerprints and get your picture taken. Then you get a physical where you answer a bunch of questions (do you do drugs?), pee in a cup (are there drugs in your system?) and get your finger pricked (nothing to do with drugs.) You also have to do routine stuff like get weighed to determine how much plasma you can donate and get your blood pressure and pulse taken. Pass all of these and you’re good to go!

Go to a little room that is and get hooked up to a machine not unlike the one from The Dark Crystal (okay I made that part up) where they extract your blood, run it through a machine to separate the blood from the plasma and then pump the blood back into you. Once finished, you get paid and free to lather, rinse, repeat twice a week for as long as you keep passing the tests.

*I love how everyone calls it “donating” plasma as if you are just doing it out of the kindness of your little blood-pumping heart. I suppose “selling” plasma sounds too gauche.

The Pros to Donating Plasma
Let’s be honest, there is one pro: you get paid. Most places seem to pay 30-40$ a visit, not bad if you figure it by the hour. Added bonus – you are “donating” a vital fluid to be used for someone who has a life-threatening medical need for it.

The Cons to Donating Plasma
What I really want to know is if it negatively impacts your long-term health. Young college kids are notorious for thinking they are immortal but I can’t afford that kind of mentality. From my research (read: Google), most sites will tell you there is little to no risk to your health. One company writes, “The process is designed to maintain the health of the donors because it would not make much sense for the company to decrease the health of the donors, which would reduce the amount of plasma donated and negatively impact the company.” How very… practical of them.

Common reactions to donating plasma seem to be short-term and include dizziness, fainting and vomiting stemming mostly from not drinking enough water. Plasma is mostly water and in a typical donation session you lose about a half a gallon. Fatigue is also a commonly reported side effect. However, the venerable health Q&A site Go Ask Alice run by Columbia University explains that regular donations are not only not detrimental to long-term health but also provide a life-saving resource. Alice explains the risks thusly,

“About twelve percent of the subjects in the study mentioned above had to stop donating because of lowered levels of antibodies in their blood. (Antibodies are special proteins that help the body’s immune system fight infection and disease.) Also, pre-menopausal women who donate often are more likely to have lower levels of hemoglobin because of the loss of blood during menstruation. A lack of this protein may make people feel weak and tired. Taking an iron supplement may help counteract this, but be sure to consult a health care provider before doing so.”

Alice then also adds,

“Extensive, long-term studies have shown that frequent donation of plasma is safe. [...] One study showed that those who regularly donated blood had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but the explanation behind this is still unclear.”

So it appears that not only is plasma donation safe but it might actually benefit you in the long run? For some reason I am still a bit leery of it. Is plasma donation a great Recessionista tactic? Or do you think it is too risky? Any of you done it?

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

bjbella5 June 3, 2009 at 4:22 am

Just an FYI, I had a friend in college who went into nursing and she learned that most of these plasma places sell the stuff to companies for other reasons then life saving. Cosmetics and other drugs are the main ones. This is how they are able to pay you. Unlike the Red Cross which is a non-profit, (ie: so you don't get paid to donate blood)

Maybe things have changed and I'm not against plasma donating/selling. But, if someone wants to do it because they feel they are helping someone, it might be wise just to double check and ask the business they go to where the plasma goes.

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ASD May 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I worked for a plasma company and I spent quite a bit of time figuring out what happens to the plasma we go through. I couldn’t tell you what other companies use plasma for but the vast majority that Grifols Inc uses is for medicinal purposes. The only plasma that is not used medicinally is the plasma that is rejected due to elevated ALT’s and lipemic plasma (elevated levels of fat). It would not surprise me if those were sent off for cosmetics and the like.
I would also assume that other companies use their plasma differently.

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Suze June 3, 2009 at 4:40 am

I'm a normal, 48 year old female who has donated plasma for quite some time. Call me a sap, but I do it because I have a brother and a gal friend who both have to go through plasmapheresis on a regular basis. One has Guiane Barre syndrome, and the other has an immune disorder. I can't "earmark" my plasma for them, but I feel like mine is out there in the system making up for the plasma that was donated by someone else. As for the cash – I put that in a fund to use for outings with them when they're able to get out and about.

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Nancy Campbell Allen June 3, 2009 at 5:28 am

I do it and love it. :-) Easy money, I get to read for an hour and nobody bugs me.

There are signs all over my plasma center talking about the medicines they make with the plasma- I've also heard about the cosmetics thing and don't doubt that it's true- but then, my motives are not altruistic, although I wish they were. I'm just there for the money.

When gas was four bucks a gallon, it was a great help.

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Mags1086 June 3, 2009 at 7:49 am

I sold plasma for about a year when I was in college. It was definitely easy money, but it had its drawbacks. First of all I always look like I was shooting up drugs from the bruises over the veins in my arms! Also, I'm not 100% sure if this was real or just in my head, but it definitely seemed to me like it caused me to gain weight. I don't know of any scientific research that supports this, but there seemed like a correlation for me with my body. The weight thing was really why I ended up stopping "donating." (Also, my mom found out and freaked out!)

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fabi May 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I have been donating blood for a few months, and I am going to stop for the same reason: It seems like it is causing me to gain weight, I am 12 pounds heavier since I first donated plasma! I guess this happens because you have to eat very well before and after donating, who knows!

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ica June 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

you definitely have to make up for the “lost” plasma somehow… and eating properly is a recommended way to do so. however, I don’t think that donating plasma is the actual cause of gaining weight. the thing is, eating more = weight gain, it’s trivial. so you coud say that donating plasma increases your appetite. it’s up to you it you eat more or not. oooor, as it is in my case, I always reward myself for the good deed I’ve done with sweets (more often than not) i’m pretty sure that donating plasma alone causes one to gain weight

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Pamela Ray April 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Has anyone had a problem with their protein not building up within 46 hours.I eat a lot of protein and my dropped from 7 to 6.5.I eat chia seeds, Spirulina, red meats, beans, nuts, salmon and it is still low.Any one have a secret to building up your protein.I heard Valerian tea helped.

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Sue April 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Hi Pamela, I have been donating plasma now for the past 8 months and my protein levels are always right above the required limits of 6.0-9.0. I eat 70 to 100 grams of protein per day and have never been over 6.7 for my levels during that time. Sometimes I’m right on the border of 6.0 when I only get 60-70grams the day before donation in. I have also just started into a more intense work out regime since spring is on it’s way finally. That will use up more protein in your body also, so I have to really watch how intense my work out is the day before a donation day. My daily routine for food is a 20oz glass of milk in the morning with protein powder, a greek yogurt and maybe a piece of toast with peanut butter. For lunch it all depends upon if its a donating day or not, if its not a donation day and I’m busy at work, sometimes I don’t get a chance to eat lunch. But donation days I always at least like to get in a sandwich with some sort of lean meat.or peanut And then supper is usually beef,chicken or pork,veggie and milk. Not a big fish lover.
If I remember correctly what ever protein your body does not feel its going to need is flushed away so for you to get the levels built up beyond those levels I don’t think is going to be possible. Hope this has helped.

As far as the other people mentioning they were gaining weight, yes I also gained weight.10-15 pounds over the winter months. I found that I was eating more on donation days. But when you first start donating for what ever reason afterwards I would need to eat something I was really hungry afterwards even though just prior to going and donating I had usually just had supper. So I was snacking on those nights, which I normally don’t do.

Watching and Weighting June 3, 2009 at 8:08 am

Kind of off the point really, but I LOVE the Dark Crystal film!!!!! I sooooo wanted to be a Gelfling when I was little! xoxo

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recipesforcreativity June 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

Eeek! Reading this post made me feel both excitement (I can get money from donating part of me that doesn't make babies?!?) and sort of nauseous (Yikes, they recycle the blood back into me and there would be a giant needle involved?)

I don't think I'll be donating any, though only because I'm a wus. I do think it's great for people to donate, though!

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Joshua Johnson August 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm

It’s not really that bad, I “donated” (read as sold my blood to pay for college stuff) for the first time Saturday and I am absolutely terrified of needles (as in I have almost had panic attacks from shots and such) but after getting myself to calm down and the fact that I went with friends really helped. Not to mention the place I “donated” to had free wifi so I was able to keep myself occupied on my laptop (with only one hand). It isn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world but the worst part by far is getting the needle initially stuck in. After that it is hardly noticeable. I say hardly because both my friend and I noticed that if you move the arm the needle is in we felt sharp pains from where the needle was. So as long as you don’t move your arm around the only discomfort comes from the blood going back in, which doesn’t hurt just feels weird because it is colder than the blood currently in your system. All in all it was worth the $60 and I plan on going back tomorrow.

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Crabby McSlacker June 3, 2009 at 11:37 am

Great post, I've never seen this subject covered before. And it seems like a very sensible idea to me!

I've often wondered, given the constant need Red Cross has for more blood donors, why there can't be public or hospital funds used to PAY folks to donate blood. Everyone else in the medical system gets paid, from doctors to drug companies–why should we restrict ordinary folks from getting paid for their blood instead of always hectoring them to volunteer? I think volunteering is GREAT, but why should that be our only source of a vital medical supply?

So paying people to donate plasma seems only fair, and there shouldn't be the least bit of stigma about it.

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Shannen June 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

It’s illegal to pay directly for people’s body stuffs. Things would get all dystopian. Girfols (where I go) pays “donors” for their TIME. Tho you get a flat rate whether they get you through in two or four hours. (they don’t schedule, it’s a nightmare during school.) a word of advice: if some noob sticks you wrong and you can’t donate that day (even if you deign not to let them try & prolly hurt your other arm) they owe you some cash!!! I didn’t get anything the first 4 times it happened, until someone actually followed through. So ask, they “are paying you for your time.”

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Jennifer June 3, 2009 at 11:51 am

I've always been intrigued by the idea, but until they figure out how to extract my plasma without a freaking needle, I'll probably never try it out!

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Patricia June 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

My Father-in-law donated plasma for years. Every Friday he and my MIL would head downtown and he would donate his plasma. Here in Canada you can't get paid for it so it was all for altruistic reasons. He only stopped last year when he had some heart problems (he's 72 years old).
He didn't have any long term problems though he'd always get my MIL to drive them home in case he did experience any dizzyness.

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Shellie June 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I have never donated plasma, but I have known lots of people who have (mostly in college.) I never heard of anyone – personally, by word of mouth or on the news who had an adverse affect to donating plasma. If people want to do it to earn money, I say go for it. Would I do it? I dispise needles, but if I really needed the money, yes I would.

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Shannen June 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm

My physician does NOT recommend selling plasma. She works for the university and sees tons of us who do. It hits people to varying degrees. It has compromised the immune system of everyone I know. Colds hit more often and are harder to shake. This is REAL, even if studies show up all rosy. That said, make your $55 or whatever per week, but if a nasty cold lays you low, don’t run back as soon as your temperature is in bounds. Take a break to strengthen yourself.
I started taking an antidepressant with my BC that had dizziness listed as a side effect. selling plasma sans med my balance is fine. Taking only med, I am fine. Taking med AND selling plasma struck me with powerful weakness and dizziness. So bad sometimes I thought I would fall and have to sit for a good chunk of an hour, or stumble against things. My boyfriend was worried and always glad when I didn’t sell. I am off the med, & plasma just makes me hungry and crave a nap again.
I will be very glad when I don’t feel guilty about my finances if I don’t risk my veins and prick my fingers twice a week. (more finger pricks if your levels are off, and they can be sore to the touch for quite a while.) it’s generally fine, but you have to know your body and be careful. Btw, the iodine they hit you arm with stings when they stick you, doesn’t mean you’re hurt.
Hints: when they say “relax”, I lOok away, try to make arm limp, breath out a long breath, and direct tension to pinching opposite arm’s fingers together.
If the pressure strap feels too tight, you are prolly right. Speak up-especially if your skin is going off color. Blood flows better when you can actually pump your hand.
if there is pressure in the needle regiOn, also say so; pro’s can move the needle without restabbing you, and it will feel/draw much better. (always freak me out but keep that arm relaxed!)
Arms being equal, Donate in the one that will be less annoying to have a huge bruise on, just in case.
Or, if you are feeling solid, but still have a scab on the usual vein, you can switch arms. I found no scabs to make the stick much less uncomfortable.
I’ve been told by a tech that crooking your hand in towards you aligns your arm nicely so the needle is more comfortable. Figure out what positiOn lets you pump your hand without jarring the needle with bouncing tendons, and hold it that way when they stick you.
When the needle comes out, don’t push the cotton so it pulls towards your shoulder. I even slide it down a little, to avoid squishing that bit of skin off of your wee puncture, or it heals worse.
With swab firmly down, bend your arm closed. If you keep it straight until they bandage you up it tends to feel… unpleasant… when you bend it in your normal routine. So just open arm back to a subtle angle when they come to wrap your gauze down. today my scab set less than ideal, still trying to calibrate.
Ps, if you get the same finger pricked in the same spot too many times, the area may actually harden. I got a prick a week ago that was KILLING me at work-it felt like my tiny wounds kept getting broken back open. So alternate fingers after a while.
Fact: I don’t heal from the pokes as fast as my sister.
Also, the tracks have permanently sunk into my arm. I have a disused vein, and two years later it is still a crater. Now there are two. Glad my right arm still looks pretty normal.

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Tricia June 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I've never heard of this.

I agree with Crabby about the donators/volunteers being paid. If you think about it, they're the only ones who aren't getting a direct obvious benefit (the people who take their blood are paid, and someone's life is saved). However, they undertake 100% of the risk; what if the needle to donate blood (or plasma) is incorrectly inserted? What if, instead of a vein (or artery), it goes to the other one (I know it's bad if they take the unoxygenated blood, but I forget what blood vessel that's in), or a tendon? What if an infection results? The volunteer is SOL.

Personally, I feel like there should be a program where, if you donate blood, you should be entitled to some sort of healthcare. After all, you're looking out for the good of others, the government should want to look out for you.

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sarah June 3, 2009 at 1:22 pm

just a response to the last comment — venipuncture is quite safe. and it's actually not catastrophic to accidentally tap the artery. we need to do that quite often in the hospital actually for various reasons! if that happened accidentally, it's just that you or someone else would have to hold a lot of pressure afterwards to make the bleeding stop.

the components of plasma definitely do have many life-saving purposes. i am a pediatrics resident and have written for IVIg or other plasma products for very sick kids (kids with immune defiencies, cancer, other autoimmune problems). so even if the main motive is money and even if not every drop goes to these good purposes, some of it likely does.

that said, i've never donated. i would give blood, but am too small to make the requirements for red cross.

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Dr. J June 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Although I pride myself with very rarely having to give blood to patients while performing surgery, it has been necessary on occasion. During my anesthesia training, I had to give blood numerous times. On behalf of myself and all the survivors, THANK YOU VERY MUCH :-)

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Jer June 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I've always been of the opinion that if God intended me to have blood/plasma sucked out of my body He would have installed a valve on my arm.

I have to have blood drawn for lab tests regularly at work and it's all I can do to make it through a few milliliters. I can't imagine watching a half gallon leave my body. Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

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Hannah June 3, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I have do it, no biggie. There was a stigma here about it, until gas was $4/gal and then I started to see way more faces there and still do. As a stay at home mom, it is nice to have this extra income that doesn't require me to clock in and need daycare and such. A friend and I do it and watch each others kids while the one goes. I get to sit and read a book for an hour, get a break from my kids, and get paid. Win/win/win if you ask me.

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Meg June 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Hmm…this seems like it may be a viable thing to do. I think I'm going to look up places to do this around me…although my needle-phobia may be an issue!

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Lethological Gourmet June 3, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I'm thinking about doing this, especially since I'm soon going back to school. But the idea of having track marks on my arms from frequent donation kind of freaks me out…

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dragonmamma/naomi June 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm

I did it 30 years ago for about a year when I was a poor college student. At that time, it paid only 10 bucks a shot, but 10 bucks was worth a lot more back then. 80 bucks a month seemed like a small fortune!

Why did I stop? Well…one day, as they were pumping the red blood cells back into me, my arm started feeling kind of sore and puffy. I called one of the workers over, and she basically blew me off and told me to stop being a baby. A few more minutes went by, and my arm was visibly swelling up. I got more vocal until someone else checked me out; turns out the needle had slipped to the side and was pumping the blood into my muscle instead of my vein, something they called "infiltration". By the time I got home, my arm looked and felt like I'd been hit by a truck, all swollen up and purple. Took almost a week to get over it.

That was the last time I did it.

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Quix June 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I don't do needles unless I *havehavehave* to, I am a wuss. If they could get it out of me another way, I would gladly donate.

I did have a friend who donated plasma for about a year before his wedding to help pay for it, but I don't know anyone else who has done it. My fiance has no issue with needles, might have to mention this to him, hehe.

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Elissa June 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

I donated in college/right after college during a period of time I was seriously in need of the $$.

I only got $15 per visit, and really its not a quick thing, you have to wait your turn then sit in a room with someone, they make you answer a list of questions every time and check blood pressure and iron. I frequently got sent home for low blood pressure. So its definately an extremely low paying sidejob for the time it takes.

After that they had us all in one room on these comfy loungers with movies on screens above us. Unfortunately it would take them forever to get my plasma, partly because of my low blood pressure, they also frequently had trouble finding veins and had to switch arms halfway through. Not to mention bruising.

The thing I hated most was that when they've taken the plasma they put in a solution to fill the same volume (saline?) in your blood and that made me soooo cold, shivers would just wrack my body until the stuff that had just been pumped into my blood came to body temp.

The rest of the day I was always tired, groggy, grumpy.

Just thinking about it makes my veins hurt. The last time I went they were fiddling with the machines and I had an intense pain shoot down my arm, I screamed and the tech just looked at me and muttered "d__ I thought that might happen" and hooked up my other arm.

On the other hand, its the right thing for many people, I don't regret it but it wouldn't be worth it to me to go back.

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Sara June 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

:) This post made me laugh because I remembered a time when I was a freshman in college and myself and 2 good friends of mine went to donate plasma at a place in the city. We waited around ALL DAY, had our fingerprints done, were weighed in, had a tour of the place and got scared by the long needles…finally when we had to pee in a cup, one friend had crazy neon pee due to vitamins she was taking…and they wouldn't let her donate. After all that time we left, because we didn't want to do it alone and we were kind of freaked out anyway! But it was an interesting day to say the least.

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Sagan June 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Wait, what? You get paid for it? I thought it WAS just donating. I'm pretty sure that the people I know who do it don't get paid… maybe it's different in Canada? (or a different program thingy). I think it's a really good thing, though- win win for everyone.

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Diana June 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I used to do it in college. But, me and hubby discussed doing it now for date night money (funds are a little sparse now)…or spending money in general! It's not bad, just that I have hard to find veins so I have a few scars from failed attempts. Good thing I'm not afraid of needles!

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Loey June 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Sagan – you're right; in Canada it's an actual donation without payment (except for cookies… mmmm… cookies…).

I used to donate, but now I have low iron which makes me a poor candidate. I also do a lot of international work in areas at risk for malaria so the Red Cross doesn't want my blood anyway.

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Jody - Fit at 51 June 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I never heard of this in all my long years! I donated but never heard of getting paid. I tell you in these tough times, it is tempting & hopefully you help people! I would limit it though just to be safe plus I can't lift my weights the day after or so if it is like giving blood! :-) It always comes back to my weights, I know! Sorry!

Great info!

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azusmom June 3, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I've never donated plasma. I'd do it if i knew it was definitely going to people who need it and not some cosmetics company.
I tried to donate blood a few months ago (i used to donate regularly in college), but because I lived in the U.K. for a while (in 1991!!!!!) I'm not allowed to donate. Because I might have Mad Cow.
(Although I'm thinkin' that if I DID, it would have shown up by now. Also, I was a vegetarian at the time.)

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deprogram June 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Hate needles. No way.

If I didn't, and enjoyed pissing in a cup (another of my least favorite things to do) I'd definitely do it. As it is, they'd have to multiply that rate by about 10 before they'd get me in the chair.

You know, you're going to burn calories replenishing that plasma. Your body needs energy to do that. Kind of a twisted way to look at it, though.

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Fit Mama June 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I tried to do this in college, but was denied because I had mentioned that the Red Cross had given me a false positive on Hep C once. Had I not said this, they would have let me continue… I do donate blood through a local blood bank still.

I have read about blood/organ donor groups. Basically, people who donate can get the blood or organs if they need them without being on a waiting list forever. So basically if you are willing to give up your organs/blood, your group-mates are willing to give you theirs. I think it's a sound idea. But I really like the above commenter's idea of getting healthcare or something for donating.

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Leamur June 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I've given plasma for gas $$ in college and then just donated when I worked for a university hospital system. The place I went in college was in downtown Baltimore and I'd be in a row of recliner/stretchers with a bunch of winos and a book, but at the University Hospital they gave us warmed blankets and a choice of movies to watch. I've never had problems with needles, but I get cold easily, so when they'd put the blood back in and it had cooled while it was outside my body, I'd get chills, which they gave me Tums for, for some reason. Anyway, it's not a rough procedure or anything, you just have to be able to sit still for 2 hours.

I always thought donations weren't allowed more often than every 2 weeks, though. Learn sumthin' every day!

I still give blood every 2 or 3 months. I consider it a civic responsibility. If plasma donation wasn't a 45 minute drive from where I live now, I'd probably start doing that again, too.

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Elizabeth June 4, 2009 at 12:22 am

I was just trying to convince my pastor that we should do this as a church because we need $$$ for a building. I used to do it all the time in college to have money for… whatever crap I was spending my money on at the time.

It takes awhile to pump the stuff out and put it back in, I got to watch a lot of movies.

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Hi! I'm Erin June 4, 2009 at 12:43 am

I've never done it, but then again, I've never given blood either. For a long time I didn't weigh enough and then I was scared of the needle. My husband looked into selling plasma once. He's given blood lots of times so he's not afraid of the giant horse needle. However, he's on antibiotics for his acne and the people he spoke with weren't sure if that disqualified him or not. They said they would check with some higher-ups and get back to him. They never called him and his desire for extra cash waned. Hence, I don't have any first-hand experience with it.

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Hi! I'm Erin June 4, 2009 at 12:43 am

I've never done it, but then again, I've never given blood either. For a long time I didn't weigh enough and then I was scared of the needle. My husband looked into selling plasma once. He's given blood lots of times so he's not afraid of the giant horse needle. However, he's on antibiotics for his acne and the people he spoke with weren't sure if that disqualified him or not. They said they would check with some higher-ups and get back to him. They never called him and his desire for extra cash waned. Hence, I don't have any first-hand experience with it.

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Hi! I'm Erin June 4, 2009 at 12:43 am

I've never done it, but then again, I've never given blood either. For a long time I didn't weigh enough and then I was scared of the needle. My husband looked into selling plasma once. He's given blood lots of times so he's not afraid of the giant horse needle. However, he's on antibiotics for his acne and the people he spoke with weren't sure if that disqualified him or not. They said they would check with some higher-ups and get back to him. They never called him and his desire for extra cash waned. Hence, I don't have any first-hand experience with it.

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Marilyn B June 4, 2009 at 1:42 am

There are only about 6 quarts (1.5 gallons) of blood in the body. Blood is about 55% plasma, which means you have about 3 quarts of plasma in your body. I really doubt you're giving up 1/2 gallon (2 quarts) of plasma.

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linteater June 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I used to donate blood regularly (they don't pay us in my city).

I tried to switch to donating plasma because it has a quicker recovery time for all my races, but something about my blood count was wrong and they couldn't take it.

I think one long term effect I've noticed from donating blood multiple times is that your vein will start scarring. But maybe that's just me because I only 1 good vein and used the same one every time.

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Allie June 4, 2009 at 3:01 pm

My father-in-law went quite a stretch where he was donating plasma every week. I think he's had to take a break from it.

I don't like needles and avoid them wherever possible. Because of this, I rationalize that I'm too skinny, and my blood pressure is low to start with, so it's probably not safe for me to donate and bodily liquid that doesn't come out without the help of needles.

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Phillip July 22, 2009 at 7:08 am

I was one who donated plasma at first for the whole "pat on the back." Then, I'd go if I needed a few bucks, which felt less that nobel.

Upon my last visit, which was a week ago, I felt huge pressure and then intense pain when they do what is called a return. This is where they put the whole blood back in your system, without the plasma.

I had something happen called an infiltration, which is the blood going into your body else were(muscle and under the skin) I felt the pressure and looked down to see a very swift swelling. Then I feel pain and, since the staff was busy socializing, It went on for a few minutes. It was absolutely terrible, it would be a feeling equal to having an alien eating its way out of your stomach. I was told it would bruise but I should be fine.

That day my bicep had grown a lump the size of a softball. It was severly cramped and hurt quite a bit. I notice slight bruising before bed, but wake up to find the immediate area covered in a bruise of deep blues and purples. sore too.

As the past week has gone on the bruise has gotten worse. I now have a bruise covering nearly my whole arm and I am in extreme pain. I've spoken to a doctor and all I'm left with is pain medicine and ice.

so, what I have to say is be careful. Plasma donation can be a very nobel thing, but you have to think about yourself. Don't go just anywere. Do your research. Find a good staff.

As for me, I don't see myself near any type of need again soon. This was very traumatic and I can't wait for this arm to heal. I haven't slept a whole night all week, because my whole arm is tender inside and out.

My doctor said I am very lucky.

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Danny October 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

How long did it take for your arm to heal? And how long did it take for the bruising to go away? The EXACT same thing happened to me.

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Anonymous July 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm

There are also other companies that pay much more for plasma, the only thing is you have to be sick. This company looks for people who have auto immune disorders or viral infections and pay as much as 500 each time you donate. Check out this site accessclinical.com

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Tim August 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm

"Jerr said…
I've always been of the opinion that if God intended me to have blood/plasma sucked out of my body He would have installed a valve on my arm."

By that rationale, if God had intended us to use penicillin, he would have made penicillin trees. Or, how about the Jarvis artificial heart tree. "God intended" arguments are ignorant. Absolutely ridiculous.

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sarah November 8, 2009 at 12:35 am

I just started donating plasma (poor college student looking for extra cash). I have to say the experience is quite sombering. I've been able to talk to alot of the residents of the town that my college is in, and spending a day on the city bus is always an adventure.

I've given 4 times so far, and yes it does look like I am an IV drug user now. I never bruised easy until now. I haven't had any complications, except my left arm never seems to like being stuck-it always hurts for a few days after, but no problems with the right.

I find donating plasma gives me a chance to earn extra cash, meet the local residents, plus I can always pull in some study time while I am hooked up too. It works all the way around.

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Anonymous November 12, 2010 at 3:09 am

Well..

I started donatinng Plasma in Germany..
I did it 2 months, once a week.
I have never been sick in my life.. I do a lot of sports.. eat healthy, do sports..
But after the donation.. I cought cold and now stay home in bed.
I am not BADLY sick.
But I really feel like.. my immune system got too low.
And my hemoglobne is too low on my results.
Even the plasma does not have to do with the hemoglobine, it has all the antibodies in it..
And when they take it out of your body frequently.. it makes you sick..
And already in winter..

So.. NO MORE lol

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Anonymous April 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

What no one seems to mention here is the intense hunger that hits you when you become a plasma donor.I'm not one to be obessed with food but that was all I could think about all the time.So I spent more money on food but hotdogs tasted way good because I was so ravenously hungry so I had like a salad with hot dogs in it every day.I kept thinking that this is the kind of hunger those people in the nazy camps must have been feeling,I've never ever felt such a hunger like I did when I started donating.The other thing was I had some kind of mental side effect and I never ever had that before or since,but I woke up in the middle of the night with a palpable fear in the room,as if the devil was in my presence only I could not see him.I was paralized with fear and it took me minutes to get the courage to get out of bed and call my friend who unfortunately could not come over cause he was too drunk.It took me a long time to fall asleep.So I stopped donating then and there.I have vitamins deficiencies as it is so I certanly did not need more problems.Btw I've never ever been so scared in my life.

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Jurgen hoffmeier June 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

I just came back from donating plasma in germany and I was also very, very hungry. I spent all the money I got on watermelons and Chinese food. So I have nothing left, I am also very tired and sleepy but I am too afraid to sleep, the fear is real. Also I had to pee really badly during the whole thing, Which was at least an hour, my bladder felt like it was gonna burst and they wouldn’t let me stop to go pee until it was done. Very traumatic.

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Jurgen hoffmeier June 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

Hh

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Jürgen hoffmeier June 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

I just came back from donating plasma in germany and I was also very, very hungry. I spent all the money I got on watermelons and Chinese food. So I have nothing left, I am also very tired and sleepy but I am too afraid to sleep, the fear is real.
Also I had to peereally badly during the whole thing, Which was at least an hour, my bladder felt like it was gonna burst and they wouldn’t let me stop to go pee until it was done. Very traumatic

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Jürgen hoffmeier June 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

I just came back from donating plasma in germany and I was also very, very hungry. I spent all the money I got on watermelons and Chinese food. So I have nothing left, I am also very tired and sleepy but I am too afraid to sleep, the fear is real.
Also I had to pee really badly during the whole thing, Which was at least an hour, my bladder felt like it was gonna burst and they wouldn’t let me stop to go pee until it was done. Very traumatic.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 at 2:29 am

I’ve also been donating plasma, and I’ve got to admit that it is almost painless, and it doesn’t take much of your time. Hopefully, I’m helping someone else, all while receiving a satisfying payment. Someone else mentioned they were gaining weight, and I’ve been donating plasma for six weeks continuously and have two more weeks left (Summer School), and the same thing seems to be happening to me. I’ve been exercising more and eating a bit healthier due to this gain in weight, nevertheless it’s still noticeable. Probably for this reason I’ll halt my plasma donations, but has this happened to anyone who has donated this often?

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ace September 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I am doing it on a weekly basis I have to tell you if you’re going to do this DRINK a lot of water specially your first time. Remember DRINK a lot of WATER I can’t say this enough. It is easy money if you don’t mind the needle syndrome which is forgotten after you earn your $65 bucks a week. Take care eat enough iron and again DRINK a lot of WATER!
Be safe and God love ya!

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BelleinAustin September 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I just started “donating” (today). After reading all of the possible sides effects, both rare and VERY rare, I was a little uncomfortable. However, once I’d made it through today’s session w/o any allergic reactions or heart attacks, I feel much more secure in going back for twice a week sessions. That is… for the next few weeks until my budget loosens back up. Everything researched said that it was completely safe and possibly beneficial,and for $150 for the first four trips (combined) and $50 a week after, it’s hard to say no. I needed a second job, but with my sketchy custody of my daughter it was hard to find anyone to work around my schedule. $50 a week of groceries should help me right on through these tough times… and hey! Maybe even through Christmas ;)

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MSpielman September 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Started donating this week. There’s a special where the first 5 times you go, you get $50, for a total of $250. After that it’s about $50/week if you go two times. They also have contests and drawings for anybody who donates twice a week, so you can win up to $200 on those.

I seem to bleed fast. I can get in and out in under an hour.

That’s almost $3000/year, if I go religiously. And since we’re well under the poverty line, it feels like a fortune.

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beerab December 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I just started, today was my first time and it was great. No pain at all (the finger prick hurt more!), and I was on the machine for about an hour- I was actually surprised at how fast it went.

You aren’t paid for the actual plasma, you are paid for your time, hence you are donating the plasma, just not your time ;)

With this economy every bit helps, I’m hoping to donate for a few months :)

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Brandon December 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I’m 22yrs old and have been donating on and off since I was 18. The whole thing about track marks is if you bruise easy. I go twice a week and I alternate arms each time, never using the same arm twice in a row. I’ve never had any complications and I make 60 bucks a week to go sit and watch tv. So you’ll never hear me complain about it

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RAH January 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’m a volunteer plasma donor to the local Blood Bank. I don’t get paid. I used to donate blood on a regular basis but found out I could have greater impact helping people by donating good amounts of plasma half as often as giving blood. Perfectly safe and easy. Getting paid is fine, but when any of us go into the hospital, we better pray they have what we need available.

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Anthony March 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I am interested what these plasmapherisis people make on flipping our plasma.. since they are of of those antichrist.. blood sucking.. pill pushing.. smack shooting pharmaceutical companies I think they charge vehemently high prices for their life saving drugs while they have several office sized rooms filled with desperate college young adults thinking they are doing some good in this world when in actuality they are giving those rich 1% all more influence.. if anyone has information on these synthesized cures please contact me with your source so I can see personally.. tone_mack@hotmail.com is my address..

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Diane July 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I started donating plasma again a couple weeks ago. Years ago, as a single mom, I needed the money. Now, this is my money to spend any way I want and I am determined to go twice a week. Last time I was there, when the girl stuck me it hurt. She said it was from the Iodine. My arm ended up hurting all day. Even now, 3 days later, I’m getting twinges. I think she got a tendon or something. I am going to try to donate tomorrow. I can only hope that she didn’t do permanent damage and that I am still able to donate (I can only donate out of my right arm). Either way, the money is good. Other than the first visit it only takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours of my time. I am more hungry, and I feel generally weaker, but I am trying to eat healthy and take multivitamins. If I can’t continue donating, it won’t be a super big deal, because this is just “fun” money. I will be upset though. If you try donating, make sure if it hurts you tell them and be persistent. Don’t let them walk away from you if it hurts. It shouldn’t. Obviously some of them are better and more caring than others.

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Nicole August 21, 2012 at 3:00 am

Today was my first time donating so it took about three hours going through 100 questions and the physical and the pee test but after that just got hooked up to a machine and watched tv some people read you just cant sleep dont know why but as a mom having time alone sometimes is nice and walking out 2 hours later with 50 cash i can do twice a week so for now monday and wednesday is donating time so 2 times a week for a month which equals 200 cash for reading watching tv for 16 hours a month not bad works for me win win

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Bill August 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Everyone one on here sounds so scared. ive been donating over 3 years now. ive never had a problem. easy money and my center is really fast under an hour as long as you drink water you will be fine.

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Josh September 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Ive done it for years. Work it into my schedule twice a week. Takes on average two hours from when I walk in to when I walk out. Earn on average 17.50$ for those 2 hours. Easy peasey. I’d rather give plasma then ask for food stamps. That’s what I use my donation money for. I eat well!

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Krystal October 5, 2012 at 7:57 am

I just wanted to share my story or giving plasma. I have given twice and finished both times the second being worse than the first. So the first time I had a reaction is what they called it. anyways I got nauseaus and dizzy and my skin felt very hot they put an ice pack on my neck and fanned me which felt fantastic. I am pretty positive that I actually passed out for a few seconds because I could barely keep my eyes open I couldn’t talk luckily there was a nurse standing right next to me though I still found it difficult to reach up and grab her. My machine had been beeping for probly 2 or 3 minutes indicating that blood flow had stopped because I had stopped pumping my hand. I was actually a lite mad because the nurse looked at me after I grabbed her and said oh is that you beeping. So I then finished the donation. When I was done the lady told me that even though I ate and drank a sufficient amount before arriving to donate that more than 2 hours had passed between eating breakfast and donating so that is why I had a reaction. When I went outside my friends said that I was pale and didnt look well. I didn’t feel well I was very tired and nauseus. But after eating I started feeling a little better though I still felt sick and tired for the rest of the day and didn’t sleep well that night. Well about 2 weeks later me and my same friends decided to go again. I was a little scares but I’m 20 years old and live on my own so I need all the money I can get. I figured that since I felt bad the last time because of not eating close enough to my donation that I would eat a lot through out the day this time we didn’t leave till evening instead of the morning I also drank water all day which I already do everyday anyways. So by the time we for there I was feeling fine I was full I felt great. Well they stuck me and the guy said I had great blood flow right off the bat so I thought awesome this is going to be done quickly. Well not even 5 minutes in I started feeling nauseous again and I didn’t want it to happen again it was embarrassing everyone was starring at me and I didn’t want it to happen all over again. So I relaxed myself concentrated on deep breathing because I figured my blood is being taken out and oxygen is good for the body and that seemed to help a little. And every time it went into a return I felt fine. The second to last time it started taking my blood out I was not feeling good at all. My skin was starting to feel hot again and my breathing was helping to slow the reaction I think though I still had a reaction my breathing helped me stay calm so I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out and then it finally went into a return and I started feeling better by the end of the return and then my last cycle started again by the time it started returning again I was feeling awful. I had just had another reaction and this time a nurse or doctor or whatever those people are noticed that I was pale and not looking well ans asked me if I was ok I said I’m fine now and how went to tend to the guy next to me. The nurse guy looks at me again and looks back at the guy next to me the nurse looks at me again and says are you sure your ok and I said I’m fine, I just feel a little hot so they for me an ice pack started fanning me and I felt like crap the rest of the day. Worse than I felt the first time probably because I had had 2 reactions this time and the first time I only had 1. I felt sick all day my friend and I did a little shopping and I couldn’t even stand for very long without getting nauseous or feeling like I was going to pass out. I felt fine as long as I was sitting or leaning on the shopping cart in Walmart lol. I want to go back again because right now I have $15 left to last me for 2 weeks and my car is broke down and I really need the money. But I am scared it will happen again. I don’t know what to do because they say its because I didn’t eat enough but I’m thinking maybe if I eat breakfast lunch and dinner for a few days in a row and stay hydrated for a few days in a row then it will be ok. I don’t usually eat breakfast lunch and dinner. I usually only eat one meal a day and snack throughout the day. I don’t ever get hungry for big meals. I just wanted everyone to know that there is a downside sometimes it doesn’t go as planned and some people can’t donate even if they are perfectly healthy according to blood tests. I mean who knows maybe my heart doesn’t make blood as fast as other hearts. I never bruise so I don’t know.

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Sue April 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Can I make a suggestion for you if you decide to give it another try if you haven’t gone again because your to scared to go. Have them lower the speed of your collection rate. That might help. My veins are smaller so both my rates for the collection and the return have to be set much lower than the rates the machines are automatically set to.

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drink coupons on carnival cruise October 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

Now I am going to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming again to read more news.

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oneiro November 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

Barrel of Carrots was banking to make $600 a month in 2009. I make $800 if I can donate twice each week. I wonder what the particulars were with BoC, if he had a freak titer. Skinny guy here, no fear of needles, weight around 130-135 since adulthood; phlebotomists love me because I have those healthy, bulging veins. I donated a double blood unit in college and had no problems and I read the minimum for that is 130. I’ve made an obscene amount of money from donating plasma and the worst I’ve ever felt is light-headed. Those places are kept sterile and cold of course, so when the saline hits you at the end you can sometimes be overwhelmed.

I began donating plasma infrequently with friends when a plasma center offered to pay me $5 if I would get a Hepatitis B booster shot. Why not? The next visit they measured my titer and realized that it was unusually high. They were starting a titer-based payment program and I was informed I would make $90 per visit from now on. I probably donated 50 times and I never had a problem. When I went to school I stopped donating plasma but I donated the double blood unit I mentioned. After I returned home I was offered a slightly higher amount, and I have donated probably another 30 times. I’ve drank only water for years now and lots of it, but I always drink even more the day before and day of a donation.

I bet a lot of people going in are malnourished or dehydrated and just don’t know it. You should focus on your intake the day before in addition to the day of donation. Your plasma should ideally be a straw color that is light yellowish, the darker it is the less hydrated your plasma is most of the time (though I believe protein/fat play roles). Be sure to eat foods high in protein and iron if you’re going to donate a lot.

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knockturnol1 January 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

I have donated for a significant amount of time now and have noticed no big change in my weight either loss or gain. They suggest you eat a high protein meal days before and days after to compensate for plasma loss and if you eat healthy meals you should not see any significant weight change. I also feel my plasma goes mainly to good use for he most part and at the same time I am sure it is used for other things I probably would not approve of I am sure. I get paid for it so I guess they can do whatever with it. I feel we should be compensated a litle better than what we get now. I dont know if you have ever seen what they charge a patient in need of plasma lets just say it is very expensive!

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knockturnol1 January 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

Oneiro where do you donate to get compensated that much? I live in portland and dont even see half that per visit $25 and $40 a week. Us oregonians are getting robbed you got to love grifols/biomat/talecris and yes that is one company after the merger.

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katie June 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I tried to go today for the first time. 2 hours later told me I couldn’t donate BC my blood pressure was 103 not 100. waste of my time, didn’t get paid shit, really upset cuz I needed that $. Said I can come back and try again tomorrow. Don’t know if I will or not. Still could use the cash but I’m freaked out about the needles!! All my friends who have gone before have sum serious tracks on their arms that freaks me out too ahhhh

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rich kid June 22, 2013 at 6:24 am

I have been donating plasma for the past 9 years – and over this time I have yet to notice any difference in health.
As a matter of fact, I donated plasma this morning and walked out with $120 for this visit. Let me add, however this isn’t the norm for most donors. I have been lucky to be blessed with not only the rarest of blood types, AB-neg, but I also carry Anti-body D. Not only am I a VIP at the clinic, meaning I never wait in line, but I get paid considerably more than regular donors, and receive extra bonuses throughout the month that other donors will never see.
Besides the money, the Karma thing is there, too.
If you donate plasma and have a negative blood type, check with the staff at the medical facility you visit and see if they have the Antibody D program.

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rich kid June 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

…let me add… I hate needles and after 9 years, I still am not used to it. That, is the only downside, as far as I see it. But like I said prior, it’s the Karma thing.

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Jeffrey September 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm

The facility I donate at sells the plasma to companies that use it to make drugs…..those drugs are then used to save peoples lives. Don’t think that because the company isn’t non-profit that it isn’t going to good uses. People with Lupus and other life threatening diseases and viruses use the drugs that plasma is made from to help fight those diseases and viruses. It is used for its clotting properties a lot for those that have a thin blood. How many diseases or virus do you know of that cause your blood to thin? The answer is more then you would think. Anyways, I’m just saying that just because its not the Red Cross your donating to, doesn’t mean it’s not good. You could in fact be saving someones life. That is worth it to me whether I’m getting paid to donate or not.

Sincerely,
Naval Military Police Veteran

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Jeffrey September 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm

And to the Rich Kid…..your blood type has no effect on how much you get paid for your plasma. Plasma is universal meaning if you donate no matter what your blood type is, anybody can use that plasma no matter what their blood type is. Antibody-D is an entire different subject which I don’t know enough about to comment but, your blood type has nothing to do with plasma!

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Mary November 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

I started giving plasma, two years ago, I started at one company then had trouble because of the scar tissue, and only one proceser could stick me, Then I went to another company and have been giving for five months. The first company started out not making me take saline, then they started and I had gained a few pounds each week, but my weight was going up and down, about five pounds time I donated. Then I started with the other company who at first started not giving me saline, and I actually lost weight, through diet and excercise. Then after they started giving me saline with my donation, Since my last donation yesturday I have gained 22 LBS, with taking more than twice my water pill. I have lost eight pounds of it over night. I still need to loose 12 more LBS, to get where I need to be at my lowest. I walk three to five times daily, don’t over eat too much, and not happy with the water weight gain

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Brian January 28, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Donating makes me somewhat tired and really hungry. You burn 470 cals per donation. Other then that not complaints.

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Cecile Perrin April 16, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I’ve been donating for a few months now and it doesn’t bother me much. I will say though, after the first day I got home and was fine, started making some food and got extremely nauseous and hot and sweaty. I felt like I was going to faint so I had to run upstairs
lay down fast. After a few minutes I felt a little better so I went and drank some water and ate my food.I felt better but I was still tired and kind of weak the rest of the day…I was scared to donate again because that was a horrible experience, but I went back and felt fine. I think because the first visit was more than 4 hours long, the food that I had previously eaten and water that I drank was long gone. I suggest eating a large meal and drink plenty water and if they allow you to eat in the facility, bring a snack and some water while you wait (not to cold because it will lower your temperature and you’ll have to wait until its back to normal to donate). I haven’t had any problems since my first time donating and I’ve been going more frequently. Although friends and family members hate the fact that I donate and have told me numerous times to stop and have even offered to pay me instead of donating.

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Cecile Perrin April 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I’ve been donating for a few months now and it doesn’t bother me much. I will say though, after the first day I got home and was fine, started making some food and got extremely nauseous and hot and sweaty. I felt like I was going to faint so I had to run upstairs to
lay down fast. After a few minutes I felt a little better so I went and drank some water and ate my food.I felt better but I was still tired and kind of weak the rest of the day…I was scared to donate again because that was a horrible experience, but I went back and felt fine. I think because the first visit was more than 4 hours long, the food that I had previously eaten and water that I drank was long gone. I suggest eating a large meal and drink plenty water and if they allow you to eat in the facility, bring a snack and some water while you wait (not to cold because it will lower your temperature and you’ll have to wait until its back to normal to donate). I haven’t had any problems since my first time donating and I’ve been going more frequently.

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