Review: Donating Plasma

Donating Plasma seems like a way to make easy money. The first five times you get $50 dollars, then it goes down to $25 or $35 depending on how much you weigh and how much plasma they can get out of you. Employees in the front desk are often undergraduate students who are pre-med, have in interest in medical field or want to make money. There are also like 3-4 nurses present as well as phlebotomist’s. From my conversations the younger adults working there (20’s/30’s), are there for the money, are there while they pay for school, or in the process of applying to schools. Overall the staff was very friendly and fun to talk to.

To Donate: three forms of identification are required

  • I had my school ID, my drivers license and brought a W2 form.
  • Social security number is required to check databases and make sure you aren’t donating at multiple centers or too often

My First visit 5/22/2017

  • Walk in sign your name as a new person.
  • Assistant gives you folder of information to read through about you passing on infections to others, the risk of donating plasma, and other supplemental information about donating plasma (list of medications etc).
  • The assistant takes you in to this small room, draws blood from your finger into a capillary tube, looks at it, asks you some medical questions.
  • Another lady looks at your arms to see your veins make sure they are visible enough.
  • You go to a private room with a nurse and she asks more questions
    • Interview Questions
      • Set of about 50 questions,all about Drug habits/sex habits/ medical history
    • The “Physical”
      • Check for needle sticks under tongue, arms, in between toes, check your heart rate, listen to your heart and lungs.

The Plasmapheresis

  • I was scheduled to donate 680ml of plasma because I am under 150lbs.
  • This first time unfortunately this didn’t go so well, the phlebotomist stuck the needle in and it didn’t feel it. Then she turned on the machine and the pressure was off, so she untaped the needle and started to move it around the vein trying to increase the flow. She did this about three times, the third time I noticed the site around the needle stick getting bigger so I quickly let her know and she stopped the machine. The¬†phlebotomist infiltrated my vein. Which from my understanding (and reading this answer) , she dislodged the needle from the vein, or poked through to the surrounding area.
  • I had a faint bruise about the size of a half dollar around the area and by my bicep for about a week.

 

  • My Second Visit 6/15/2017
  • Walk in, sign your name in.
  • Assistant takes you to the small room and asks you the same questions again, you are expected to review the original folder with information about the risks and warnings and side effects etc. She said a third time I would not be asked all the same questions again.
  • They take your blood sample again with a capillary tube, take your blood pressure and temperature.
  • Wait in the lobby a bit.
  • Then sit you by one of the beds.

The Plasmapheresis – part 2

  • This time a more experienced phlebotomist stuck the needle.
  • She appeared to struggle a bit to get the machine working correctly, she mentioned that she could have stuck the needle deeper to increase the flow but as the machine was running ok she let it go. She also mentioned my vein was curved and that made it more difficult
  • You are given this red sponge to squeeze to stimulate blood flow to your arm.
  • There is a display next to the machine that you can see how much plasma has been collected and if you should squeeze the sponge.
  • The machine runs in cycles so every about ~100ml it stops and reverses the flow back to your body with I think was blood mixed with anti-clotting agent.
  • This went on for about ~50 minutes, sometimes feeling a pinch on the stick area.
  • Last 5 minutes was a saline solution injected into your body. This is the uncomfortable part, as this makes the area feel cold and slowly spreads further up the arm.
  • Then you are done!

Conclusion

  • Yes it is easy money the first few times, but it is uncomfortable, at least for me.
  • After the five times donating, $25 isn’t work it for me to undergo the discomfort and about 1.5 hour time investment.
  • You will have a small leftover scar of where the needle was placed, its a pretty thick needle.
  • I tried to look up some numbers and someone mentioned unprocessed plasma is worth ~$200 and processed ~$500 so it’s a pretty good investment for them.
  • You will feel like you are being milked like a cow.