How to Donate Plasma for Money

Updated on May 31, 2018
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Daniel is a plasma donor of several years. He's used plasma money to help with everything from making ends meet to starting a business.

Donating Plasma for Money

Plasma donation can provide an extra $4,000 per year for only a four hour commitment per week. It's simple, safe, and can even provide greater financial freedom if used strategically.

Plasma is in high demand due to its role in life saving treatments. While the selfless nature of plasma donation is important, this article explores how to earn money from the act of donation.

I have used plasma money to do everything from funding a small business to making ends meet during a job change. However, it's not for everyone. The following information is provided to see if donating plasma is worth it to you.

Some individuals can earn over $300 per month via plasma donation.
Some individuals can earn over $300 per month via plasma donation.

The Money

Money is the main reason people donate plasma and is the first topic to consider when determining its worth to you. Not all plasma donors are created equal and the payments vary between individuals.

A reasonable expectation for payment is between $15 to $60 per donation with a maximum of two donations per week. Most plasma centers offer an entry bonus for new donors and may pay over $50 per donation during the initial entry period. However, this bonus is only temporary.

Realistically, a person can expect to make between $60 and $400 per month with their donations. The amount is dependent on four factors:

  • Body weight
  • Frequency
  • Special Antibodies
  • Promotions

Body Weight

Body weight is the number one factor in compensation. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the amount of plasma that can be drawn from someone based on weight. Generally, if you weigh more than 150 lbs, you will receive higher compensation for your donation because a greater amount of plasma can be drawn. If you weigh between 110 lbs (the minimum weight) and 149 lbs, you will receive lower compensation. An example of payout may be:

  • 110-149 lbs: $15
  • 150+ lbs: $30

Those who weigh more receive higher value for their time.

Frequency

The second most important factor is frequency. Most plasma centers provide "bonuses" if you donate twice a week or a target number of times per month.

Plasma centers need your plasma and have created payment methods that encourage a higher frequency of donations. Their goal is to get you into the center more often by rewarding high frequency donors with higher payouts.

An example of frequency bonuses may be:

  • $30 paid for first donation of the week.
  • $50 paid for second donation of the week.
  • $20 added to donation payment for sixth donation within the month.

Many donors create a monthly donation schedule in order to receive all offered bonuses. A well scheduled donation calendar can be the difference between $100 and $400 within a given month. Frequency bonuses are where you make the most money with plasma donation.

Special Anitbodies

Special antibodies are a third factor that may lead to higher payment. If you have specific antibodies in you plasma, you may be paid extra due to certain trials, needs, or studies being performed. An example of these payouts may be:

  • $10 extra for chickenpox antibodies (VZV)
  • $10 extra for exposure to the smallpox vaccine.

The plasma centers will inform you if your plasma contains any antibodies that are bonus worthy. These offers are normally given for a limited amount of time but can be a nice kicker when payouts occur.

Promotions

Promotions are the final factor that can garner additional revenue. Most plasma centers have promotion events to increase donations during a month. Examples of these promotions may be:

  • $10 for donating on a slow day (usually following a phone call)
  • $5 for sharing a social media post.
  • $20 for referring a friend.
  • $10 for donating on your birthday.

Some promotions include giveaways that include free lawn furniture, grilling equipment, local business items, and even cash prizes. The types of promotions are endless and are normally monthly or quarterly. The more plasma a center needs, the better promotions donors will receive.


If you strategically take advantage of the bonuses, and weigh over 150 lbs, you can garner almost $300/month with ease. If you weigh less that 150 lbs, you may need to be more strategic with frequency bonuses in order to gain maximum value for your time.

Donors can make the most money by being strategic with monthly promotions and bonuses.
Donors can make the most money by being strategic with monthly promotions and bonuses. | Source

Exclusions From Donating

If the money is worth the time, the next step is making sure you are eligible to be a donor. Plasma donation has strict requirements due to your blood products being used in another living person. Prior to signing up, you need to be aware of three categories of disqualifiers:

  1. Medical
  2. Sexual
  3. Personal


Medical Disqualifiers

There are specific medical conditions that often disqualify a person from donating plasma either due to bloodborne disease transmission or higher risks for the donor. Common disqualifiers include:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • Pregnancy/Breastfeeding
  • Previous Heart Attack
  • Cancer (specific kinds)

It is important to remember that different centers have different donation criteria. Prior to ruling yourself out as a donor, it is best to contact your local center and discuss their requirements.

In addition to the above, some centers may also have strict guidelines regarding blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, and kidney disease. If you have concerns, it may be best to contact your personal physician for guidance followed by the plasma center to see if it's in your best interest to donate.

Sexual Disqualifiers

Some bloodborne diseases can be transmitted via sexual activity. Plasma centers may choose to exclude you based on high risk sexual activity. The activities may include:

  • Paying for sex
  • Receiving payment for sex
  • Having sex with an HIV positive partner
  • Having sex with a partner who has Hepatitis
  • Having male homosexual sex
  • Having sex with male who has participated in homosexual sex

While some of the disqualifiers may seem controversial, they are listed due to their label as high risk sexual activities for HIV or Hepatitis (whether correctly identified or not). Any participation in the above sexual behavior will need to be discussed during your initial screening to see if exception is provided.

Personal

Personal traits or activities can also cause exclusion. These include:

  • Piercings within the last 12 months
  • Tattoos or touch ups within the last 12 months
  • Living in Europe during a specific time period
  • Specific military service (dependent on location)
  • Drug use
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Not being between ages 18 and 65
  • Weighing under 110 lbs

Each section has its own reason for existing and exclusion criteria will be dependent on your location. Again, check with your local plasma center to explore your eligibility.

Any tattoos or touch ups within the last twelve months may disqualify you from plasma donation.
Any tattoos or touch ups within the last twelve months may disqualify you from plasma donation.

Negative Side Effects

The act of removing blood and putting it back in seems dangerous. However, plasma donation is fairly safe due to industry regulations. While long term effects of plasma donation are not readily known, there are three common side effects that may affect you:

  1. Volume Depletion
  2. Scar Tissue
  3. Immune System Compromise

Volume Depletion

One side effect of donating plasma is that you may leave with less volume in your circulatory system. Plasma centers normally will not allow you to leave without a saline bolus or consumption of a water/electrolyte beverage. However, it may take a moment for your circulatory system to catch up. Temporary dizziness and even fainting may be a part of this adjustment period if you change body positions too quickly.

Scar Tissue

Consistent donors will develop scar tissue on their arms from the venipunctures. It's the unfortunate consequence of soft tissue receiving repeated trauma.

Those who give twice a week will quickly develop divot scars on both arms from the needle insertion. While this may not affect overall health, you may be asked if you're an IV drug user and your best veins may be unusable during blood draws or during an emergency.

Immune System Compromise

Plasma donation may also impact your immune system. You lose part of your antibodies when you donate plasma and this can make you more susceptible to catching illness. If you're already immunocompromised with lack of sleep, poor diet, or other factors, plasma donation may make you more susceptible to illlness.


As stated above, long term effects of plasma donation are unknown. Overall, however, donation is a safe process with only a few minor negative side effects.

Frequent plasma donations create noticeable scarring on the arms.
Frequent plasma donations create noticeable scarring on the arms.

The Initial Process

If you like the money and feel that you're eligible, the final step to donating is applying at the center. The initial entry process will take approximately one to three hours and may take longer if the center is busy.

You will need three things in order to begin:

  1. Photo ID
  2. Social Security Card
  3. Proof of residence (such as a letter to your address)

These three items are non negotiable and you'll be turned away without them.

Next, you'll complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire is lengthy and centers around the previously listed exclusion criteria as well as your general health. You will be seen by a qualified medical provider once the questionnaire is complete.

The provider will assess your vital signs, check your weight, and conduct a general physical. They will also review your questionnaire and clarify anything that may be questionable. This is your opportunity to ask any questions and resolve any conflict.

The provider will give you an immediate answer about your eligibility once you are complete. If approved, you will be allowed to enter the donor floor for your first donation. If declined, you will be given an explanation as to why.

A Normal Donation Day

Following approval, a normal donation day is simple. Typical donations are fewer than two hours in length and can be completed even faster if done during times of slow donor traffic.

You will always begin by answering a questionnaire, reviewing required material, and receiving a brief physical screening. Each screening consists of:

  • Weight
  • Temperature
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Sample

Once this is complete, you will be escorted to the donor floor where they will place you in a reclined chair next to a plasmapharesis machine. A technician will perform a veinipuncture on your arm of choice and then you pass your time via reading, watching videos, or any other similar option of your choice until your donation session is complete.

The plasma center will immediately pay you via an issued debit card and you're free to leave with instruction to drink water, avoid caffeine, and avoid alcohol for the following hours.

Each donation requires a screening process that includes vital signs, weight, and blood sample.
Each donation requires a screening process that includes vital signs, weight, and blood sample.

Is It Worth It?

The worth of donating plasma is relative to the person.

If the time it takes to donate plasma is worth less than the time lost, then it may not be in your best interest. Most plasma centers are located in urban areas. It may not make sense for a rural person to drive forty miles for a $15 payout. It also may not be worth four hours per week for a 110 lb person compared to a 150 lb person.

The best way to measure the worth of plasma donation is by comparing its value to a personal goal. If donation will help you reach that goal (monthly bills, savings, stocks, etc) then it's worth it.

Plasma is a consistent income with monthly bonuses. The best way to use plasma money is being intentional with its consistency. Use plasma money to pay for professional certificates, start a business, or make investments. The possibilities are endless if you're strategic with its value.

Plasma money is different for every person. It's all about your intent and your time to tell if it's worth donating.

What motivates you most to give plasma?

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Summary

Plasma donation can be an easy, consistently monthly income. The amount earned is dependent on your time, your weight, and your frequency of donation.

The key to maximum profit is being strategic with bonus donations and having a plan for your money earned.

If you're eligible to be a donor, the process is simple and contains very few negative side effects. It may be one of best ways to earn consistent income on the side.

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