I donated my plasma to earn extra money–here’s my honest review.
On New Year’s Eve, I was loafing around and surfing Facebook when I caught a post from a good friend who shared that she had just made over $600 in one month by donating plasma. The money was going into her summer vacation fund.
$600? Summer vacation money? I immediately texted her to get more details. She sent me her referral link and I headed to the plasma donation location to find out for myself what it was all about.
What is plasma?
As defined by the Red Cross,
“Plasma is the pale, yellow portion of the blood and accounts for nearly 50% of blood. It contains water, proteins, and salts. Plasma plays the critical role of maintaining a healthy blood pressure, blood volume and a proper pH balance. Without plasma, our body would not be supplied with many of the proteins that are necessary to support blood clotting and our immune system responses. In addition, plasma carries many of the electrolytes that our muscles need to function properly and support our activities of daily living.”
According to my plasma donation center’s website, “human plasma is used to produce therapies to treat bleeding disorders including hemophilia and von Willebrand disease, primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, inherited respiratory disease, and neurological disorders in certain markets. CSL Behring’s products are also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatment, and to prevent hemolytic diseases in the newborn”
In other words, many people benefit from plasma donation.
When you donate plasma, blood is removed from your body, the plasma is separated from the blood, and your red cells are put back into your body.
Where do you donate plasma?
I donated plasma at CSL Plasma. There are over 270 centers across the US, Europe, and Asia. I found my center to be very clean, safe, and COVID protocols were being followed. The staff was very friendly and helpful.
What to expect on your first visit:
The first visit will take the most time, approximately 2-3 hours because there is a thorough screening process. Subsequent visits will take 75-90 minutes.
I did not need to make an appointment for my first visit, however, it is best to call to find out what you need for your first visit. It was required that I bring my driver’s license, my social security card, and a piece of mail that matched. Your name on your license must match your social security card. I watched a woman get turned away because her social security card did not match her driver’s license. She never changed her social security card after she got married and was turned away because of the mismatch.
Once at your first visit, you will be asked to watch a consent video that is about 20-30 minutes long. This video goes over the whole process of donating plasma and will help you determine if it’s right for you.
After the video, you will meet with an employee who will set you up as a donor, take your vitals, and answer any questions you may have.
After that meeting, you will start the pre-screening process that will happen every time you donate. You will be required to truthfully answer a 60+ health history questionnaire. You will be asked the same 60 questions on your second donation, but it will go down to 24 questions beginning with your third donation. At my location, they have kiosks where you can answer these pre-screening questions, but I have found it easier to answer them on my phone app.
Email me at email@example.com for my referral link to download the CSL Plasma app to get started with donating.
I got the sense with all of the pre-screening that this plasma location takes everyone’s safety very seriously.
After you answer the pre-screening questions, you will proceed to the check-in line where you will meet with another staff member who will prick your finger to test your blood for protein, assess your veins for suitability, and take vitals such as blood pressure, temperature, weight.
Once you are checked in, you will proceed to the actual donation area to wait your turn. This is where you will get hooked up for the plasma donation. The donation area is one large room with lounge-style beds. There are 40 beds at my donation location.
Side note, I highly suggest you go to the bathroom before heading to the line to wait your turn for a bed. 😉
Your second visit will not take as much time. You are still required to answer the health history questionnaire and check-in with a staff member to test your blood, veins, and vitals. However, beginning with the third visit, your questionnaire will go down to around 24 questions.
The amount of time that this process takes also depends on the number of donors who are also waiting in line. I have found mornings to be a good time to get through this process quickly. Currently, my entire donation process takes approximately 75-90 minutes.
Who is eligible for donating plasma?
Eligibility for donating includes:
- Donors must be in good health
- They must also be between the ages of 18-65.
- Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Can not have had tattoos or piercings within the last 4 months.
- Must meet the eligibility and screening requirements as described at your first visit.
- There are certain medications and health conditions that could prevent you from eligibility and I suggest you call the donation center and ask about any meds you’re on or your health conditions. I had melanoma over 10 years ago and my plasma has been flagged for research.
- Have valid identification and a permanent address. I was asked to bring my driver’s license, along with my social security card, as I described above.
Tips I’ve learned from donating plasma:
Taking phone calls, taking pictures, and recording videos are forbidden at the donation centers, thus why I have no personal photos in this post. However, you are welcome to use your phone for texting, watching videos, listening to music, and playing games. You must use earphones though. I like to listen to podcasts while I donate, and then catch up on emails and social media.
They strongly suggest that you eat within 2 hours of donating and it is highly recommended that you keep yourself hydrated leading up to your donation. However, you are not allowed to bring food or drinks into the donation area. I drink a lot of water anyway so that isn’t a problem, but I have found drinking some Gatorade the morning of my donation helps me through the process. I got lightheaded at my first donation, and I thought I was going to be told that I’m not a good candidate for donation. Instead, I was told to drink Gatorade the morning of my donation and I have not had any problems with lightheadedness since. The staff member told me that it is not uncommon to become light-headed on your first donation. Your body is not used to having its blood removed, and the red blood cells put back in. The Gatorade definitely helped and I haven’t had any trouble since making it a part of my donation routine.
You are not allowed to nap during the donation process. I was a bit bummed about this because I love to nap. They want everyone to be awake and alert so they can differentiate anyone who has passed out. This sounds scary, but I have not witnessed anyone passing out. Yes, I got lightheaded, but I now know who to prevent it.
My donation center is a bit chilly, so dress appropriately. I wear a short-sleeved shirt and layer on a jacket. I’ve seen some people bring blankets.
How much money can you make donating plasma?
As I am writing this post (February 2021), my donation location is promoting that “new donors can earn up to $700 their first month.” Keep in mind, promotions can change from the time of this post, and your earnings depend on how often you donate. I earned $600 during my first month.
At CSL Plasma, your earnings are deposited into a Visa pre-paid card. You create an online account to see your debits and credits, similar to a bank account.
Two ways to make money at CSL Plasma:
- Earnings from donations:
Your first month could be your most lucrative from the additional incentives given for your first 5 donations. When I started I was paid $60 for each of my first 5 donations. After that point, the compensation is based on your weight and the number of donations you complete in the past 35 days. If you maintain 8 donations in the past 35 days, you will make more than if you go 4 times in a 35-day window. You are allowed to donate twice a week but must have at least two days between those two donations. They suggest you set some regular times for yourself. I usually go on Friday and Sunday mornings. I’ve found mornings are less crowded than lunchtime and I have not gone in the evening, so I’m not sure about those times.
2. Earnings from referrals:
I used a referral link from a friend and at that time, she was able to get $150 if I finished 5 donations, and I was able to earn $100 once I completed 6 donations. The donations must be done in a time window and the money is spread out over that time period. The referral bonuses are given out in rewards points that can be transferred to your prepaid Visa card.
Also, if you have had COVID and have proof, you might be eligible for additional compensation. A friend of mine who had COVID receives $100 per donation, but this can change at any time and he hasn’t been told how long he will get this extra compensation.
Is donating plasma safe?
According to the Red Cross, donating plasma is considered safe. However, you could experience side effects, such as tiredness, soreness at the needle site, and possibly lightheadedness as I described above.
I have read up on safety and I’m comfortable with my donation location, however, you must do your own research to determine if it’s right for you.
If the sight of blood and needles makes you queasy, this might not be for you.
Will I continue to donate plasma?
Right now, donating plasma fits into my schedule. I try to go on Friday and Sunday mornings. My goal is to continue at two times a week, which is approximately $360 of compensation. I have calculated that this is about $30/hour.
Steps to get started:
If you have read this post and feel that donating plasma is something you’d like to try, check to see if there is a CSLPlasma location near you. There are over 270 CSL Plasma centers throughout the US, Asia, and Europe.
Also, gather all of your questions and call your local CSL Plasma location. They should be able to help you determine if donating plasma is right for you.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments.