Amanda Youngman 17 September 2007 Plasma-for-Pay Empty pocketbooks run rampant on college campuses. Undergrads have synonymously always been broke as a joke, and as a result, eager to “make bank.” While some students turn to retail or restaurants to earn much-needed-money, many turn to plasma donation centers for quick cash. BioLife Plasma Services on Lucy Drive sees serves numerous James Madison University students on a typical day. With all this hype for plasma donation it is important to understand the ins-and-outs of the plasma process. To understand plasma donation, one must understand what plasma is. If you think it has something to do with blood, you are on the right track. Plasma is the liquid component of blood; it is ninety percent water and the color of straw. According to The Franklin Institute, plasma contains many dissolved salts and minerals such as calcium, sodium, and potassium. Antibodies, which are proteins used by the immune system to fight off infection are also found in plasma (The Franklin Institute, 2007). Plasma helps maintain blood pressure and carries vital proteins that help with blood clotting at wound sites. In essence, plasma is like the water in a stream; if it dries up, everything dies. So if everyone has plasma, how come people can get paid for donating theirs? The Puget Sound Blood Center [PSBC] in Seattle, Washington states that “plasma is frequently needed by trauma patients, burn victims and others fighting serious illness and injury” (PSBC, 2006). Since plasma cannot be recreated in a lab, many lives depend on donations. Blood plasma is also extremely useful in the care of hemophilia, a disorder wherein blood cannot clot. Furthermore, donated plasma may be utilized by research institutes to develop new treatments for diseases that attack the immune system. Now that you understand what plasma is and how it is used, you may have decided that you want to donate. “Plasma apheresis” is the process used to collect plasma from individuals. Apheresis simply means that only certain components of the blood are collected. When one donates plasma whole blood is removed from the body. Red blood cells and plasma are separated outside of the body, the plasma is retained, and the rest of the blood components are returned to the body. BioLife Plasma Services explains the plasma collection process on their website: On an initial visit, and annually, individuals receive a physical exam and vital signs are taken. This is to ensure that participants are healthy enough to proceed with donation. On each visit thereafter a staff member will take note of any health changes since the previous visit. The first visit will take about two hours due to the physical exam, and subsequent donation sessions will last about one and a half hours. Most people spend the time napping, reading, or listening to music (BioLife, 2004). One can expect to pocket about twenty to thirty dollars for each visit. The process is considered safe since new, sterile materials are used for every single visit. As far as frequency of donations, BioLife states that an individual can donate plasma up to two times in a seven-day period with at least forty-hours between each donation (BioLife, 2004). The body replenishes plasma levels within twenty-four hours. As for the recipient, screening tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other disorders are performed on each plasma donation. The bottom line is that plasma donation helps save lives. If you are broke and need to make money, take note. Plasma donation may help you pay for rent, books, or even a hot date. However, if you suffer from belonephobia, be cautious. Plasma donation without needles is impossible! References BioLife Plasma Centers. (2004). Frequently Asked Questions About Donating Plasma. Retrieved September 16, 2007 from http://www.biolifeplasma.com/en/donating-plasma/faq.html. The Franklin Institute. (2007). Plasma: The Importance of Plasma. Retrieved September 16, 2007 from http://www.fi.edu/learn/heart/blood/plasma.html. Puget Sound Blood Center. (2006). Donating Apheresis Plasma. Retrieved September 16, 2007 from http://www.psbc.org/programs/plasma.htm.