Chances are you’ve heard someone, a friend, a sitcom character, maybe yourself, say something along the lines of “I’ll have to sell my blood to pay my rent (student loan, car payment) this month!” This is usually considered hyperbole to mean you’re running out of cash and can’t wait for payday. But, you may be wondering if there’s any truth to this quip. This article will cover some of the basics for selling blood or plasma at CLS Plasma.
Included in This Article:
How to Sell Your Blood (Which Is Still Sometimes Called ‘Donating’)
How You Will Be Paid at CSL Plasma After You Donate
How to Use Your CSL Plasma Debit Card (Including How to Check the CSL Plasma Card Balance)
How to Get Even More Money for Donating Your Blood by Using the CSL Plasma Z Rewards Program
You are probably familiar with voluntary blood drives sponsored by the American Red Cross. Maybe you’ve donated at one of these through your school or workplace. You are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping someone in need and with a cookie. But you do not expect payment for your blood.
So where did the idea come from that you can sell your blood for money? In a word… plasma! Donating plasma for money, as opposed to whole blood, is common in this country among people looking to earn extra cash. The details of how this is done will appear below but first some background:
What is Plasma?
Plasma is the liquid component of your blood (which is also made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). By itself, plasma is a clear yellow tinged fluid. It’s made up of 90% water and contains nutrients, proteins and hormones your body needs. It functions to carry nutrients throughout the body, and also to maintain blood pressure.
Why is there a Need for Plasma Donations as well as for Whole Blood?
Plasma is desperately needed for people who rely on protein therapies to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases and other conditions. People who rely on these treatments are usually receiving long-term recurring therapy, so maintaining a ready supply of plasma is a top priority for hospitals and treatment centers. For this reason, and because plasma without the other components of whole blood is more reliably safe, it is permissible and common to be paid for plasma donations.
How Do You Donate Plasma?
From the point of view of the donor, donating plasma is the same process as donating whole blood. The donor is seated in a comfortable chair while blood is withdrawn from a vein in the arm. The requirements for plasma donation as far as age, weight and what segments of the population may or may not donate are nearly identical to whole blood donation as well. For much more on these requirements as well as more in-depth information on the procedure itself please see this FQF article about how and where to donate blood for up to $500 per month.
The difference with a plasma donation is that after the blood is drawn the plasma is separated out and the other components, blood cells etc. are put back into you. The plasma is then processed to remove any viruses before being broken down and made into products used to treat disease. Because of this purification process, which takes place in addition to the normal screening of blood donors, the risk of disease being transmitted by plasma is very low, mitigating concerns about paid donations leading to a contaminated supply.
Though the American Red Cross accepts plasma donations at select centers, most plasma collection in the United States is done at centers run by large corporations which supply the plasma to pharmaceutical companies. Each of these corporations compensates donors in a similar way, through the use of re-loadable debit cards which are credited following a successful donation.
For the purpose of this article we will focus on the compensation details for one of these corporations, CSL Plasma, which is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida and operates multiple collection facilities throughout the US.
How Do I Become a Donor at CSL Plasma?
According to the CSL Plasma website, anyone 18 or older, weighing at least 110 pounds and who has had no piercings or tattoos within the last 12 months is eligible to donate. Upon arrival at the center you will be asked to provide a valid ID, proof of Social Security number, and proof of local address. Following this you will be asked some medical questions at a donor kiosk. A medical staff member will then review your medical history and check your vitals. Once you are cleared you will be directed to a plasmapheresis machine where your plasma will be collected. This procedure will take about 90 minutes.
How Do I Get Paid for my Donation at CSL Plasma? And How Much Do I Get Paid?
Following the procedure you will be issued a prepaid re-loadable debit card. Depending on what state you’re in the card will either be issued by CSL itself (the Red Card) or by Citibank (the Blue Card.) Each time you make a donation your card will be credited at the center following your donation. (No worries if you forget to bring your card to subsequent appointments, CSL will credit your account electronically without needing the actual card.) Exact fees vary by location, but compensation can be as high as $400 per month at CSL Plasma based on maximum allowable donations. If you consider donating at other places, you can earn as much as $500 per month.
By now you’re probably wondering how often you have to donate to make that much money. The maximum frequency allowed by the FDA is once in a two-day period and no more than twice in a seven-day period. This is much more frequent than the waiting period of 8-weeks required between donations of whole blood because as stated above you aren’t losing red blood cells in the process so you are not at risk for anemia. None the less, some people have reported side effects by too frequent plasma donation including muscle weakness, fatigue, bruising and pain at the withdrawal site.
How Do I Use a CSL Debit Card (Including How to Check the CSL Plasma Card Balance)?
You can use your CSL debit card the same as any other debit card to make point of sale purchases or to withdraw cash from an ATM. There are some things you need to keep in mind however:
- Your cash balance does not expire, however if you do not use your card at all for 90 days you will begin to be assessed an inactivity fee of $2.95 per month. So if you go too long you will see your balance significantly reduced.
- The Blue Card is affiliated with the Allpoint ATM network so card holders will not be charged a fee for using Allpoint ATMs. The Red Card however is not aligned with Allpoint or any other network. You will be charged $1.50 per transaction plus whatever fee the ATM’s owner charges you.
Because of the high ATM fees CSL’s Red Card customer service department recommends using the “cash back” option when you make a retail purchase in a store if you need cash from your account. The charge for making a debit card purchase, with or without cash back, is only 35 cents.
Since the card is prepaid you will need to keep track of your balance. The CSL website contains a page with links to get a do a CSL Plasma card balance check as well as locate an ATM. Here are the phone numbers to call if your card is lost or stolen:
CSL Plasma Card Number for the Red Card – 1-866-CSL-0200
CSL Plasma Card Number for the Blue Card – 1-877-855-7201
CSL Plasma Card Replacement
If you do lose your card, CSL will give you a replacement card for free the first time. But after that you will be charged $5.95 for any additional replacements. So keep your card in a safe place!
Additionally, CSL will offer a free replacement card if you make a donation and your original card has expired. You can check the expiration date printed on the front of the card to know how long it’s good for. You won’t be charged to get a new card if CSL needs to load more money and the old card is no longer valid.
Money can only be loaded onto your CSL debit card by CSL after each plasma donation. It is not possible to load your own funds from any other source onto your card.
Is it Possible to Receive Additional Compensation from CSL for my Plasma Donations?
Yes. In addition to the money credited to your debit card you can earn points through CSL’s donor rewards program, known as “Z Rewards.” Through Z Rewards you will earn points for plasma donations, for completing surveys and through special promotions offered through your specific CSL center. You can sign up for Z Rewards through the CSL website or through a kiosk at your CSL center. You will need the last four digits of your donor number, which you will receive when you register with CSL, as well as your last name and your date of birth.
Your Z points are redeemable for rewards such as gift cards and passes to area attractions through CSL’s online store. Be aware however that points expire if you go 30 days or longer without making a plasma donation or if you do not log into your account at least once every 180 days.
What About Cash? Are the Z Reward Points Redeemable for Cash Credit on my Debit Card?
Yes but they do not have a very high cash value. There is no information on dollar amounts available on CSL’s website. A call to a CSL location in Philadelphia (215-554-6845) revealed that to redeem for cash credit you will have to achieve “Bronze”, “Silver” or “Gold” status which are categories assigned to the very high points earners, and even at these top levels you can only redeem for about one dollar per 100 points. The customer service agent also revealed that your only earn one point for every plasma donation and an additional one point per survey. So you will not be seeing much extra cash compensation through the rewards program.
So there you have it. It is actually possible to sell your blood, at least the plasma part of it, for a fairly decent amount of money per month if you are willing to commit to the time to do it on a very frequent basis.