A doctor wearing a latex glove holding a tube of plasma against a red background.
Recently, plasma has bee used in treating COVID-19, as well as in research for vaccines.

How to Donate Plasma

Plasma is the liquid component of blood that remains after all blood cells and other solid components are filtered out. Like blood, plasma can be donated, but it requires special equipment and procedures. Here we will teach you how to donate plasma and what the steps include.

The process takes a long time compared to giving blood. Plasma has been a particularly hot commodity over the last several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plasma infusions have been used for COVID-19 treatment and to research treatments and vaccines for the virus. Because of this, it is often possible to get compensated for donating plasma.

Step 1: Do Your Research

How much money you can make from donating plasma will depend on the clinic you go to, but the usual compensation is around $40 to $60 per donation. This means donating plasma is a great way to help people and potentially earn a bit of extra money. However, it is not as simple as going to a regular blood bank.

You’ll have to find a specialized plasma donation clinic, which is easy with this search engine from the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. It can help you find the nearest clinic based on your zip code.

You’ll also want to check that you meet the eligibility requirements to donate plasma before making an appointment. The requirements include:

  • Being 18 or older.
  • Weighing at least 110 pounds.

Step 2: Prepare to Donate

You can’t just walk into a plasma donation clinic and donate. In order to make an appointment, you must undergo a pre-donation physical. This will involve:

  • Getting your vitals taken.
  • Answering questions about your medical history and medications.
  • Taking a blood test for protein and hemoglobin. Even if you are otherwise healthy, you may not be able to donate plasma if your levels of these molecules are not adequate.

Once you have an appointment, you will have to follow certain nutritional guideline in the days before your donation. These include:

  • Eating lean proteins.
  • Drinking extra fluids.

You should also do your best to get a good night’s sleep before and avoid strenuous exercise that morning. A lot of people feel a bit dehydrated and woozy after, so you will want to prepare for that by being well-rested and hydrated.

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Step 3: Donate

Make sure you are on time for your appointment. When you arrive, you will have to present identification and documentation to verify your social security number. You can also use a border crossing ID as identification.

You may have to fill out a donor information survey, which confirms information about your medical history and medications. A technician at the donation center will also take a small blood sample from your finger via a needle. This is to check that your protein and iron levels are sufficient for you to donate plasma safely.

Once you are deemed ready to donate, the process is similar to donating blood; the donation will be taken via needle injection in your arm after the technician administers an anesthetic. It will hurt, but no more than the average pin prick.

Donating plasma can take longer than other forms of blood donation. Your first visit could be up to two hours in length, with subsequent visits usually clocking in at around 90 minutes. Plan on bringing something to do, such as an iPad or a book. Some clinics may also let you bring a friend for company and support.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Compensation and Take Care of Yourself

The amount you receive in compensation will vary by clinic, but $40 to $60 is the usual. This can be handled with the receptionist before you leave your appointment.

After your appointment, you will want to take it easy and recuperate, just like when donating regular blood. Keep your bandage on for several hours and wash the injection site carefully when you do remove it. You’ll also want to take some other steps to take care of yourself following your donation:

  • Eat a light, healthy meal. Go for lean proteins, produce and whole grains.
  • Stay hydrated, just like before the donation. Drink plenty of water and juice.
  • If you smoke, do not do so at least 30 minutes before or after the donation
  • Do not drink alcohol the day of your donation

Final Thoughts

Donating plasma may not be for everybody – it is a bit of a time commitment and not every person will be eligible. However, if you are eligible, donating plasma is a wonderful way to make a bit of extra money, and more importantly, it is a way to help others. There’s no price tag on that.