How to Donate Blood for Money

Plasma is the liquid part of blood that carries platelets and red blood cells through the body.
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Donating blood saves lives. But when you're short on cash, donating whole blood or platelets doesn't help your wallet. Blood plasma, however, is a way to pick up a few bucks and still provide the life-saving benefits of the straw-colored liquid. Plasma centers across the country welcome donors like you, who are willing to spend a couple of hours twice a week to donate your plasma, and they will compensate you with a monetary deposit on a prepaid debit card.

1 Eligibility for Plasma Donation

Plasma centers are strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and have specific guidelines for donors. While you can find a plasma center in many large cities, every center has the same basic requirements as any other center.

  • 18 to 65 years old
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Proof of identity -- photo ID and Social Security card
  • Proof of residence -- rental agreement or recent utility bill
  • Good health

2 Before Your First Donation

Eat a hearty meal, including iron-rich foods, the day before and the day of your donation. Also drink several glasses of water or juice to ensure that you're well hydrated. Take a blanket and a good book. A plasma center is often chilly, and while it usually has televisions with movies or sports and sometimes WiFi, plan ahead.

Take your documents to your first visit. Plan to spend several hours, depending on how busy the center is on that day. Some plasma centers make appointments, and others allow walk-ins, so call ahead and ask. After the screener verifies your paperwork, you'll read some materials and watch a video. Then a nurse will give you a brief physical examination and go over a health questionnaire.

3 Your First Donation

After you see the nurse, a screener reviews your health information, taking your weight, temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate. She takes a drop of blood from your finger and tests your iron and protein levels. Once you have successfully passed the screening process, the nurse or screener escorts you to the donation area. She will explain the process as a phlebotomist inserts the needle and prepares the centrifuge machine to remove the plasma from your blood. The process takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes, plus the time to set up and disconnect you from the machine.

4 The Donation and Payment Schedule

You can donate twice per week with at least one day between donations, and seven days from your first donation of the week. If you donate on Monday and Wednesday, you can return on the following Monday to donate again.

Payments vary according to your weight and the current need for plasma. Payment schedules change, and when the need is great, there may be incentive programs to encourage you to donate regularly.

  • 110 to 149 pounds: $15 for the first and $20 for the second donation of the week.
  • 150 to 174 pounds: $25 for the first and $45 for the second donation of the week.
  • 175 pounds and up: $25 for the first and $50 for the second donation of the week.

New donors generally receive higher payments for the first three or four donations. Your payment is placed on a prepaid debit card after the donation is complete. Always allow two to three hours for donation, as the plasma center may be very busy, especially near the end of the month.

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.