Pass the Plasma: New Donation Trend on Campus

Ever wonder what that clear, yellowish liquid that oozes from a cut or scrape is? While we may be quick to blot it off, it’s actually in high demand.

Blood plasma is the protein-rich liquid component of blood that keeps red and white blood cells in suspension as they travel through the body. It contains various clotting factors and antibodies necessary for proper healing of injuries and for keeping the circulatory system functioning optimally.

A number of Wittenberg students have been stepping up to the plate to donate in downtown Springfield at CSL Plasma-but why? Junior AJ Burt explained, “I definitely needed some money, and I heard it was easy money, so I went in to donate and made an easy $50.” Burt is certainly not the only student in on this secret.

Burt elaborates that new donors are paid $50 each for their first three donations, $40 for the fourth, and $50 again for the fifth. The dip in payback is designed to keep donors coming back to receive the next $50. Then, these “veteran” donors are given an incentive to donate twice a week, getting paid $20 for the first time and $40 for the second. These rates, however, are based on weight class, where those in lower weight classes will earn less because they can donate less.

But that’s not the end of CSL Plasma’s incentivizing. The “Z Rewards” program has recently been implemented, where donors earn points for each donation or for referring people. The points can be redeemed for gas cards, grocery cards, and other bonuses.

CSL Plasma’s generosity towards donors does beg the question of how it is all afforded. CSL Plasma is part of a larger company, CSL Limited, that is a major producer of biomedical essentials such as vaccines, anti-venoms, and of course, plasma products. The company is currently a lead manufacturer in the multi-billion dollar plasma industry, where their development of new products has garnered them plenty of profit to go around.

With the number of students going to donate plasma, Burt notes that plasma donating can easily become outings with friends, which he coins as “plasma dates.” He mentioned that going with friends is good way to pass the roughly 45 minute donation time, and getting lunch makes the outing a little more fun.

Very similar in ease to whole blood donation, there is also some discomfort associated with the process. “You can definitely feel it going back in a little bit,” said Burt, describing his least favorite part, the “return cycle,” where blood that has been drawn and removed of plasma is given back to the donor. He added that “it’s a little chilly,” given that the blood has been sitting outside of the body for some time.

 So who wants that juice leaking from your scrape? Plasma’s many components are beneficial for the treatment of liver and kidney diseases, infections, and can even treat immune deficiency disorders. Burn victims, whose first line of defense (the skin) has been compromised, especially benefit from plasma to prevent infection and expedite their skin healing.

No appointment is needed to donate. Students are welcome during business hours to walk-in and get started as a donor. While the first visit can take up to 3-4 hours with registration, a physical, and various other screenings, a few 45 minute donations now and then could be a heaping supplement to a college student’s income. And, of course, there’s the reward of helping those in serious medical need.

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