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Updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2019
More and more people are working in the gig economy, taking on extra work to help boost their income. Selling plasma has become a popular side hustle, as it takes less time than many other gig economy jobs and it actually helps people in need.
Plasma is the clear portion of your blood that contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and proteins. It is mainly composed of water, and it’s used by your body to form blood clots, fight diseases and more. If you choose to sell your plasma, doctors use it to treat immune-system deficiencies, severe burns, and a variety of rare diseases.
Selling plasma is not without drawbacks. Unlike donating blood, the process of extracting plasma is more involved. Here’s everything you need to know about this potential side hustle.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
What to expect when selling plasma
Donating blood and donating plasma are not the same thing. If you’re ready to sell plasma, be prepared for a unique experience.
“The process of selling plasma is different than when you donate blood,” said Dr. Ross Herron, divisional chief medical officer of the American Red Cross. “During a plasma-only donation, blood is drawn from one arm and sent through a high-tech machine that collects your plasma and then safely and comfortably returns your red cells and platelets back to you, along with some saline.”
The entire process of donating or selling your plasma will take a little over an hour, according to Herron. You’ll need to bring several documents with you to prove your identity: Your driver’s license or ID card, proof of residency (such as a utility bill) and your Social Security card.
After the donation is complete, common side effects include dizziness and soreness at the needle-entry point. Some plasma donors have also reported feeling extremely dehydrated and tingling sensations in their arms and legs.
Dr. Janet Hershman, head of medical affairs for BioLife — a plasma collection center operated by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company — said the positives outweigh the negatives.
“One common misconception about donating plasma is that it’s not safe,” said Hershman. “The actual process of donating plasma is a low-risk procedure that usually has minimal or no side effects, and it provides an increasingly needed scarce resource so that people with chronic and rare diseases can benefit from life-saving, plasma-derived therapies.”
The challenges of selling plasma
In order to donate your plasma, you must first meet a set of criteria. All donation centers require you to be at least 18 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health overall. Prior to the donation, you must undergo a physical exam by a medical professional and a receive a blood test. The day of the donation, if you are feeling unwell, you should reschedule your appointment.
Your eligibility might be impacted by personal health issues. If you have a history with HIV or other infectious diseases, you will not be able to sell your plasma.
If you have type AB blood, you’re in luck. “Those with type AB blood are especially encouraged to donate plasma,” said Herron. “Type AB is the universal plasma type and can be transfused to patients of any blood type in an emergency.”
How much can you make selling plasma?
How much you can earn selling your plasma depends on how often you donate. The American Red Cross limits your donations to once every 28 days, but many private centers allow you to donate twice per week, with at least 48 hours in between.
The amount you’re paid per donation depends on several factors, including how long the donation takes, your weight (the more you weigh, the more plasma can be donated) and more. Generally, you’ll see centers offering between $30 and $60 per session. Most private centers deposit your payments on a prepaid debit card that can be used just like your other payment cards.
How to find a plasma donation center
If you’re ready to sell your plasma, you first need to locate a reputable company. Octapharma Plasma operates 80 donation centers across the nation. Grifols runs donation centers under a variety of names in more than 100 countries.
You can also use the search tool on DonatingPlasma.org to locate an International Quality Plasma Program (IQPP) certified donation center near you. An IQPP certification means the company adheres to a set of standards created by the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, an organization dedicated to maintaining high-quality plasma donation centers.
Helpful tips to prepare for selling plasma
Prior to your donation, you’ll want to prepare yourself for the experience. The Red Cross has several suggestions:
- Eat foods rich in iron, like red meat, spinach and beans.
- Get a good night of sleep.
- Drink plenty of clear, nonalcoholic fluids and be well hydrated.
- Wear comfortable clothing, including a shirt that will allow staffers easy access to your arm.
- Bring a book or download some podcasts to enjoy during the process.
FAQs on selling plasma
Who is eligible to sell plasma?
Adults in generally good health are eligible to donate or sell plasma. You must be at least 18 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more.
How long does it take?
The entire plasma donation process will last a couple of hours. Typically, your first donation will take the longest because you must undergo the medical screening.
Are there side effects or other risks to selling plasma?
Common side effects to selling plasma include dizziness or lightheadedness. Some donors experience slight pain at the needle entry point.
How often can you sell plasma?
The Red Cross limits your plasma donations to once every 28 days, while private centers allow you to donate twice per week.
Can you donate plasma for free?
You can donate your plasma for free to the Red Cross.