Thinking About Donating Plasma for Money? Here’s How

Donating plasma helps save and improve the lives of thousands of people around the world. Plasma is critical in maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood volume and a proper pH balance. 

Donating helps patients to improve or save their lives. It can also be a win-win for those needing extra cash in a pinch. Instead of turning to a payday lender, you will be helping those who suffer from life-threatening conditions such as hemophilia, immune deficiencies and other blood disorders.

How Much Can You Earn by Donating Plasma?

Consumer debt is a huge problem for Americans. While you likely won’t get rich donating plasma, it can be a viable way to earn some money fast, particularly if you’re dealing with credit card debt or are being harassed by debt collectors.

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. While plasma is roughly 90% water, it also contains essential minerals, hormones, over 400 different proteins, and nutrients. Even one donation can save three lives.

Compensation is usually around $50 to $75 per appointment, but how much money you make depends on a few factors:

  • Where you live
  • How much you weigh (the more a donor weighs, the more plasma can be collected)

First-time donors can usually qualify for a financial incentive to make their first donation. Many people schedule eight visits a month to earn hundreds of dollars.

CSL Plasma, one of the world’s most prominent plasma collectors, sometimes pays new donors up to $1,100 during their first month.

At the end of each appointment, payments are usually loaded to a reloadable debit card, so the funds are usable immediately.

Though the American Red Cross recommends that donors give plasma every 28 days, many private collection centers follow regulations set by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which allow plasma donations once every two days or twice a week.

If you donate plasma twice a week for a year and earn $50 per visit, you can earn $5,200 over a year, not counting any incentives or bonuses. However, you’ll need to factor in the expense of getting to the donation center and the time spent there.

Why Won’t You Earn Money for Red Cross Blood Donations?

You won’t get paid for traditional blood donations through the Red Cross due to fears that it would encourage donors to lie about their health and potentially taint the blood supply so someone can get a paycheck. However, unlike whole blood, blood plasma isn’t usually used for transfusions. Instead, it’s used to make pharmaceutical products, so the rules for plasma donors are different, and they can get paid.

Highest-Paying Plasma Donation Centers

Rates and incentives can vary dramatically based on where you live. Before you donate, check these four companies to see which is paying the highest rate in your area. Be sure to check with other locally-based centers as well.

What is Plasma?

According to the American Red Cross, plasma is the liquid portion of blood. About 55% of our blood is plasma; the remaining 45% are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets suspended in the plasma.

Blood plasma contains more than 400 different proteins, and of those, 150 are essential for medical emergencies.

Plasma Donation (plasmapheresis)

Four major blood types are A, B, AB, and O. AB plasma donors are unique because donors can give their plasma to anyone regardless of blood type. Because of this, AB plasma is frequently in high demand, and you may be able to earn more money if you’re blood type AB.

There is no risk of iron depletion or anemia for regular plasma donors. Still, many donation centers will check your iron and hemoglobin levels as part of the medical history screening.

What to Expect

The plasma donation process will take one to two hours. It may take a bit longer if it is your first time at that donation center because you’ll need to complete a questionnaire and review your medical history. The actual donation takes about one hour.

To donate, make an appointment at a plasma donation center. There are about 700 licensed and certified plasma collection centers across the U.S. and Europe. If you aren’t sure about a facility, research it.

Before Donating

It’s essential to get a good night’s sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat a protein- and iron-rich meal within 3 hours of donation.

Avoid fried or fatty foods the day you donate, and don’t drink alcohol the night before. These can affect your blood tests and prevent you from donating.

Who Can Donate?

Eligibility requirements can be strict, and there’s a rigorous screening process.

You must be:

  • between the ages of 18 to 70 
  • weigh more than 110 pounds
  • have a valid ID

Certain health conditions can temporarily prevent you from donating. These include:

  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth
  • Dental work in the past 72 hours
  • Taken oral antibiotics within 24 to 48 hours 
  • Taken injectable antibiotics within 72 hours
  • Received an MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) within the past month
  • Had chickenpox within the past 30 days

Illnesses that disqualify you from donating

  • If you’ve ever had viral hepatitis A, B, or C
  • If you have hemophilia or other bleeding disorders
  • If you’ve had or have tuberculosis
  • You are currently taking medicine for heart disease
  • You have certain types of cancer
  • You have contracted malaria within the past three years or traveled to an endemic area in the past year
  • You are HIV positive or have placed yourself at risk of contracting the virus

Medications that disqualify you from donating

  • Accutane
  • Oral Retin-A
  • Finasteride (used to treat male pattern baldness or enlarged prostate)
  • Etretinate (a synthetic oral retinoid)
  • If you’re currently taking medication to treat TB or malaria
  • If you’ve gotten a body piercing or tattoo in the past 12 months (unless the tattoo is from a licensed facility in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, or Mississippi, in which case the wait is one month)

Do they drug test you before donating plasma?

No, but people who take certain prescription drugs, show signs of injectable drug use, or are visibly intoxicated won’t be allowed to donate.

Possible Side Effects of Donating Plasma

Donating plasma can have side effects that are typically minor. If it’s your first time donating, you may want to arrange for a ride home to be safe. The main side effects are:

  • Bruising 
  • Nerve irritation around the injection site (If nerve irritation causes immediate, intense pain at the injection site along with shooting pain down the arm and into the hand, alert a technician.)
  • Mild swelling
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Excessive sweating and paleness
  • Sudden weakness
  • Sudden hot flash
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or tunnel vision 
  • Citrate reaction (Citrate is added to the blood during the donation process to prevent clotting)

Does Donating Plasma Hurt?

Whether the process is painful for you depends on your pain threshold. If the nurse misses your vein or you experience any side effects, you may experience more pain, but usually, people report mild discomfort.

Most individuals who donated plasma stated the needle felt like “a very mild bee sting.”

To learn more about plasma donation, check out this video:

Do I Need To Report Plasma Donation Money to the IRS?

Yes, it must be reported as income even if you don’t get a 1099-Misc from the donation center, and since it is a form of income, it will affect your Social Security income benefits.

The Bottom Line

If you live near a donation center, have a flexible schedule, and don’t have an issue with blood or needles, donating plasma is a viable way to earn extra cash as a side hustle.

The downside is it can be time-consuming with potential side effects, and it can be challenging to make more than $300 to $400 a month.


How Has the Coronavirus Affected Plasma Donation?

Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. 
You can help provide lifesaving, FDA-approved investigational new treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Suppose you have recovered from COVID-19 for the last two weeks and are eligible to donate blood through plasma donation. The plasma in your blood may contain antibodies that can help fight the COVID virus.  

What are Plasma Proteins?

Blood proteins, also known as plasma proteins, are present in the blood. They serve many functions, such as the transportation of lipids, vitamins and minerals, and hormones, and help immune system functions. 
Albumin and globulin help maintain the oncotic plasma pressure (pressure induced by proteins in a blood vessel’s plasma that causes a pull of fluid back into the capillary) and assist as a carrier for lipids and hormones. Immunoglobulins help fight infection.

Do I Need a Social Security Number to Donate Plasma for Money?

You must have a valid Social Security number to donate. However, you may not have to have your physical card with you. You can show a W2 or check stub if the document lists the number.
You must also have proof of permanent residency or a piece of mail that shows your current address and that you live within the area and are only donating at one center.

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