Thousands of Americans in desperate need of extra money to pay their bills are lining up every day across the country to donate plasma for cash.
It’s a process similar to giving blood, but donors are compensated for their time.
Read more: This algorithm could one day save your life
What you need to know about donating plasma
ABC News reports that American donors provide 94% of paid plasma that’s used around the world to create medicines that treat patients with various diseases.
Diane Sawyer recently met one struggling father who works two jobs and donated plasma so that he could buy his daughter a birthday present and cake.
The donations take place at hundreds of centers nationwide, often located in low-income areas.
Plasma donation: A closer look at the process
Money expert Clark Howard’s radio producer Joel Larsgaard said he donated plasma roughly 15 times during his college years to earn extra spending money.
Joel told me that the process would take about an hour and a half each visit.
So, what exactly does plasma donation entail? Here’s how Octapharma Plasma, a U.S.-based company with more than 80 centers across the country, explains it:
“Donating plasma is similar to giving blood. A trained staff member called a phlebotomist puts a sterile needle in your arm vein to draw blood. The blood is then cycled through special, sterile equipment that separates plasma from the other parts of your blood. Your plasma is then collected in a container, while the other parts are safely returned to your body. This process is called plasmapheresis.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows up to two donations within a 7-day period.
Are you eligible?
To ensure safety, BioLife Plasma Services says there are strict guidelines to protect both the donors and patients receiving the plasma. Here are a few of the basic eligibility requirements:
- Must be 18 or older
- Must weigh at least 110 pounds
- Must be in good health
- Must provide identification and proof of address
Here’s how much you can make
You’re probably wondering how much you’ll be paid in exchange for twice a week visits to the donor center, which take roughly 90 minutes each time.
CSL Plasma, another major company, says donors can make up to $400 a month.
Although it’s only $30 to $40 per visit, donating plasma is something thousands of people living paycheck-to-paycheck appear very willing to do.