Plasma donations increase in Central Texas amid rising inflation

Local donors can make up to $650 per month, officials say
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Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 1:05 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - With household costs rising a new trend is emerging: many Central Texans are turning to plasma donation to make some extra cash.

“That supplemental income can be substantial,” said Tom Hewitt, Senior Director of Marketing for Octapharma Plasma.

Octapharma along with other plasma companies including CSL Plasma, both of which have locations in Waco, are seeing increases in plasma donation.

“We have seen an increase in several of our centers,” said Dr. Jennifer Hanes, Division Medial Director for CSL Plasma.

CSL wouldn’t disclose the amount of the increase, however, some plasma centers nationwide are reporting increases between ten and thirty percent this summer compared to a normal season.

“We’re seeing, right now, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten percent increase,” said Hewitt. “I would say the supplemental income is terrific, and I think we have folks that benefit from that.”

According to the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are up 9.1 percent: the largest increase in 40 years.

As a result, some people are going ‘under the needle’ to make some extra money, using plasma donation as a way to pay the bills and make ends meet.

“Because donating plasma does take more time, donors receive payment for that, and right now in Waco, if you’re new to CSL plasma, in that first month of donation, you can make up to $650 in a month,” said Hanes.

Hewitt said their donors receive similar compensation for their time as it takes longer to donate plasma than blood.

“Plasma donation is the process of actually taking proteins out of the blood and actually returning that blood back into the body,” said Hewitt.

The increase is helping fill the gap in donations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing a little bit of an uptick (in donations) which is a great sign because remember: we have had about two years where plasma donations really fell off,” said Hewitt. “We dug ourselves quite a hole as an industry, and so we’re trying to replenish supply, and so for us this is welcome news to have this uptick, but we have a long way to go to be able to pull ourselves back up to where we were pre-pandemic.”

According to multiple industry sources and media reports, two-thirds of the world’s plasma supply comes from the U.S., partly because of the financial incentives offered.

Plasma is used for a number of critical care needs from blood disorders to immune deficiency.

“Burn victims are typically treated with plasma-related therapies, so it has a broad spectrum of applications and can’t be made synthetically,” said Hewitt.

Hanes says, people can only donate blood about once every two months, however, people can donate plasma up to two times per week because the red blood cells are returned.

“Plasma is this beautiful golden colored liquid that carries a lot of proteins, salts, hormones, things that we use to make medications from, which can be life-saving for people with rare and serious diseases,” said Hanes.

The medical importance of donating plasma, combined with the financial incentive to give it, is a ‘win-win’, plasma officials say.

“It is a great way to help your own pocketbook while you’re also really helping people with those medications that they need,” said Hanes.

To donate plasma you have to be at least 18 years-old, 110 pounds, and be in good health.

For more information on plasma donation click here or here.

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