UW Senior sells plasma

Brennan Leong is a second semester senior at the University of Wisconsin, double majoring in Chinese and neurological biology. While balancing his extensive workload and extracurricular activities Leong finds holding a job to be nearly impossible. Brennan has turned to other means to make cash. Brennan sells his plasma.

Leong first heard about plasma donation in high school, but never considered doing it until he got to college. After realizing he could not fit a job into his busy schedule during the school year, Leong decided to give plasma donation a try.

“When I got to college I realized I didn’t have any money so I figured I would go and check it out to see what its like,” said Leong. “It’s a good alternative and your can go during flexible hours, different than a regular job” he said.

Leong donates his plasma at the Interstate Blood and Plasma donation center about four times a month.  Leong received $40 for the first five plasma donations he gave. On the sixth donation, pay is determined by weight. Leong weighs 170 pounds and gets paid $25 for his first donation of the week and $35 for the second.

Donation time depends on the donor’s blood pressure. For Leong, a plasma donation typically takes around 55 minutes. After his donation is complete, Leong receives money on a plasma donation debit card. Leong uses the money he receives for many expenses that don’t include his tuition and his room and board.

“I use it for casual expenses like if I want to go out to eat. I also buy alcohol with it,” said Leong. “ I use it towards any fund I can, for example I am going on a ski trip for spring break so I’ll put some of that cash towards it” he said.

Leong maximizes the 55 minutes he spends in the donation chair by reading a book or studying for one of his classes.  Although Leong’s primary purpose for donating plasma is to earn extra cash for recreational activities, he does not loose site of the fact that his plasma donation will go on to help others.

“I work in a research lab myself so I know what kind of research goes on with it and what they do with the proteins and electrolytes they take out,” said Leong. “Its amazing how much stuff they can get just from offering up a small incentive of cash” he said.

Leong does not believe he will continue to sell his plasma after he graduates college in December. But for now, Leong is satisfied with his ability to earn cash for recreational purposes without the constraints of a normal job.

University students find a new way to earn quick cash

With tight budgets and scarce free time, students at the University of Wisconsin- Madison are using their bodies as a resource to earn extra cash. These students are  selling their plasma at commercial plasma donation centers near campus.

According to Dr. Jerry Ryan, Director of Medical Services at University Health Services, donating plasma is about an hour-long process that involves extracting and centrifuging whole blood from a donor and the returning the non-plasma parts to the donor. Many student donors find plasma donation appealing because they are able to earn an income without the constraints of a job. Some students are committed to selling their plasma on a weekly basis to create a steady stream of spending money.  Others sell their plasma when they need extra cash for a specific purpose.

“I never really considered it until I got a noise ticket a month ago” said Hanna Schweitzer, a University of Wisconsin sophomore. “We needed to come up with a fast way to get money so this is probably the easiest way to do that,” she said.

Students can donate up to two times a week at the Interstate Blood and Plasma Inc. located on W. Gorham St. Brennan Leong, a University of Wisconsin senior, finds it beneficial to donate twice a week because the second donation always pays more than the first.

According to a study taken at Ohio University, 70% of student donors come from families with income over $50,000. Around 75 percent of students reported spending the money on non-essential items, particularly on beer, cigarettes, and partying in the student bars near campus.

Schweitzer said she was interested on donating plasma even after she pays off her noise ticket.“I’d probably spend it on alcohol,” said Schweitzer. “It’s defiantly going to be towards extracurricular things like that,” she said.

Interstate Blood and Plasma Inc. pays its customers by putting money on a debit card each time a donor donates. Leong uses the cash he earns from selling his plasma for expenses such as buying alcohol, eating out and paying for vacations. He earns $25 for his first donation of the week and $35 for the second.

Dr. Ryan believes that because students are interested in donating to collect extra cash, college campuses are the perfect place for plasma donation centers. A younger population, such as one on a college campus, is less likely to have blood-carried diseases, making them prime candidates for plasma donation according to Ryan.

“When you look at the potential pool of clean blood products a college age population is perfect,” said Ryan. “ You’ve got young people, who are healthy, who can recover quickly and they need money,” he said.

Ryan believes the reciprocal needs of plasma donation centers demand for healthy donors and students’ demand for fast cash makes plasma donation centers near college campuses ideal.

According to Ryan, selling plasma is a safe way to make money as long as the commercial plasma donation centers are abiding by all the standards enforced by the Federal Drug Administration. To control contamination problems, each plasma donation should be labeled with a number that links it directly to its donor, according to the FDA.

While Ryan does think that plasma donation is safe he urges students to take caution when donating on a regular basis.

“The more times your do something the more chance you’re going to have one of those weird things happen,” said Ryan. “If you’re doing it twice a week, chances are something bad is going to happen is there” he said.

So far neither Leong nor Schweitzer have experienced any negative side effects after donating plasma. “I was kind of worried because I read that you might be more tired or nauseous but I actually didn’t have anything besides being a little more dehydrated than usual” said Schweitzer.

After the initial visit to the plasma center, which takes about two hours, each additional donation takes around one hour.  Leong said he passes the time it takes him to donate by studying for one of his classes. Schweitzer explained that she feels she is being “paid to study” when she goes to donate plasma.

“This is practical for me, I get money without spending a lot of time or effort,” said Schweitzer.

Selling a product that is produced by the body may raise ethical questions. Leong and Schweitzer both said they had not thought about the ethics of selling plasma and tend to focus more on the fact that they are able to profit. Ryan also has a difficult time taking a position on the subject.

“ On the one hand you say, hey it’s my body and I should have the right to do anything with it,” said Ryan. “The problem is you also have to think about the negative repercussions from that kind of thinking, mainly getting into organ donation,” he said.

Doctors use plasma to treat serious disorders such as immune system deficiencies and to make products that help prevent diseases, according to BioLife Plasma Services.

“They use it for extensive research,” said Leong. “It’s amazing how much stuff they can get just from offering up a small cash incentive,” he said.

UW donates plasma

University students find a new way to earn quick cash

With tight budgets and scarce free time, students at the University of Wisconsin- Madison are using their bodies as a resource to earn extra cash. These students are  selling their plasma at commercial plasma donation centers near campus.

According to Dr. Jerry Ryan, Director of Medical Services at University Health Services, donating plasma is about an hour-long process that involves extracting and centrifuging whole blood from a donor and the returning the non-plasma parts to the donor. Many student donors find plasma donation appealing because they are able to earn an income without the constraints of a job. Some students are committed to selling their plasma on a weekly basis to create a steady stream of spending money.  Others sell their plasma when they need extra cash for a specific purpose

“I never really considered it until I got a noise ticket a month ago” said Hanna Schweitzer, a University of Wisconsin sophomore. “We needed to come up with a fast way to get money so this is probably the easiest way to do that,” she said.

Students can donate up to two times a week at the Interstate Blood and Plasma Inc. located on W. Gorham St. Brennan Leong, a University of Wisconsin senior, finds it beneficial to donate twice a week because the second donation always pays more than the first.

According to a study taken at Ohio University, 70% of student donors come from families with income over $50,000. Around 75 percent of students reported spending the money on non-essential items, particularly on beer, cigarettes, and partying in the student bars near campus.

Schweitzer said she was interested on donating plasma even after she pays off her noise ticket. “I’d probably spend it on alcohol,” said Schweitzer. “It’s defiantly going to be towards extracurricular things like that,” she said.

Interstate Blood and Plasma Inc. pays its customers by putting money on a debit card each time a donor donates. Leong uses the cash he earns from selling his plasma for expenses such as buying alcohol, eating out and paying for vacations. He earns $25 for his first donation of the week and $35 for the second.

Dr. Ryan believes that because students are interested in donating to collect extra cash, college campuses are the perfect place for plasma donation centers. A younger population, such as one on a college campus, is less likely to have blood-carried diseases, making them prime candidates for plasma donation according to Ryan.

“When you look at the potential pool of clean blood products a college age population is perfect,” said Ryan. “ You’ve got young people, who are healthy, who can recover quickly and they need money,” he said.

Ryan believes the reciprocal needs of plasma donation centers demand for healthy donors and students’ demand for fast cash makes plasma donation centers near college campuses ideal.

According to Ryan, selling plasma is a safe way to make money as long as the commercial plasma donation centers are abiding by all the standards enforced by the Federal Drug Administration. To control contamination problems, each plasma donation should be labeled with a number that links it directly to its donor, according to the FDA.

While Ryan does think that plasma donation is safe he urges students to take caution when donating on a regular basis.

“The more times your do something the more chance you’re going to have one of those weird things happen,” said Ryan. “If you’re doing it twice a week, chances are something bad is going to happen is there” he said.

So far neither Leong nor Schweitzer have experienced any negative side effects after donating plasma.

“ I was kind of worried because I read that you might be more tired or nauseous but I actually didn’t have anything besides being a little more dehydrated than usual” said Schweitzer.

After the initial visit to the plasma center, which takes about two hours, each additional donation takes around one hour.  Leong said he passes the time it takes him to donate by studying for one of his classes. Schweitzer explained that she feels she is being “paid to study” when she goes to donate plasma.

“This is practical for me, I get money without spending a lot of time or effort,” said Schweitzer.

Selling a product that is produced by the body may raise ethical questions. Leong and Schweitzer both said they had not thought about the ethics of selling plasma and tend to focus more on the fact that they are able to profit. Ryan also has a difficult time taking a position on the subject.

“On the one hand you say, hey it’s my body and I should have the right to do anything with it,” said Ryan. “The problem is you also have to think about the negative repercussions from that kind of thinking, mainly getting into organ donation,” he said.

Doctors use plasma to treat serious disorders such as immune system deficiencies and to make products that help prevent diseases, according to BioLife Plasma Services.

“They use it for extensive research,” said Leong. “It’s amazing how much stuff they can get just from offering up a small cash incentive,” he said.

Plasma Donation In the United States By the Numbers

5,700,000 the number of plasma units that were collected by United States blood centers and hospitals in 2008

4,484,000 the number of plasma transfusions that were made in 2008

10 million the amount of people that donate blood for transfusions or source plasma each year

400 the amount of FDA licensed and IQPP (International Quality Plasma Program) certified plasma collection centers in the United States

93.1 the percentage of plasma that is produced in blood centers, 6.9% in hospitals

2 the maximum amount of times donors can donate their plasma in a week

55 the percentage of plasma in human blood

110 lbs. the weight requirement for plasma donations

1 hour and 15 minutes The average time it takes to donate plasma

12 the amount of times donors can donate plasma each year with the American Red Cross

10 the number of years before donated plasma expires and can not be used