Want to donate blood for money? Good. You’re helping people while helping yourself. And did you know that the blood most people give gets sold? Yes, The Red Cross and other blood banks are businesses. And, yes, even The Red Cross is a business. The Red Cross does indeed ask donors to give a product which they turn around and sell. The Red Cross alone sells about $2 billion worth of blood each year. Most people don’t realize their blood gets sold. The lack of transparency is disturbing to many.
For each blood donation, you give a pint of blood. And a single pint of blood sells for between $180 and $300, depending on supply and demand. For many people, that’s more than they earn in an entire day of work.
With this said, you don’t have to give your blood away just to let a company profit instead of you. You can donate blood for money. After all, if people began saying ‘no’ at Red Cross blood drives, the Red Cross would start paying everyone. Everyone would donate blood for money. Though they don’t, there are still ways of getting paid for your resource. There are still ways to make money with your blood – despite many people giving it away for free.
You can ask to receive payment for the blood you donate in the future at many blood banks around town. It’s still considered a donation, you’re just earning a reward for donating. This post shows you where to go, how to donate (sell), how much you can get paid, what it likes to give blood, if it’s considered taxable income and more. My goal with this post is to answer all of your questions on this topic. And if something isn’t covered, leave a comment. I usually reply to them within 24 hours.
Note that you’re not paid the full amount of what it gets sold for. This is the ‘donating’ part of “donate blood for money.” Unless you’re selling directly to hospitals (which isn’t an option) there’s no way of getting the entire $180-$300 per pint that I mentioned earlier. Instead, think of it as getting a commission of the sale. And you can still give yourself a huge pat on the back for being a blood donor – a smart blood donor!
If you still want to give away your blood once a year when the truck rolls around to your office building or school, by all means. But for the other times, donate your blood for money. If you like extra money, that is.
What Is Blood Plasma and Will I Harm Myself by Selling It?
Since plasma is so valuable and companies are willing to pay a lot for it, shouldn’t you want it as well?
Does donating plasma harm your body?
Blood plasma is the single largest component of your blood. It’s about 90% water (pretty cool getting paid to donate water) salts, enzymes, antibodies and proteins. When you donate, you’re donating your plasma which means you’ll be missing it afterwards. The good news is that staying hydrated before and after donating means you will minimize the after affects of donating. After affects mainly include feeling tired and having a sore arm from the needle.
Your body begins replenishing its blood plasma supply as soon as you begin to have it withdrawn. So while you are giving away plasma in the short-term, it will quickly return to normal levels within two days. What’s important is that you get hydrated before donating and stay hydrated afterwards. This is accomplished by simply drinking water and/or salty sports drinks such as Gatorade as they help replenish the salt content in your plasma. By staying hydrated, you will likely have no negative after affects except for maybe a slightly sore arm.
Does Donating Blood Hurt? Will It Leave Scars on My Arms like Drug Addicts?
Does donating blood hurt? When the needle gets inserted, there’s some initial slight discomfort. Most people agree it hurts less than a shot. To help alleviate any pain you do experience during insertion, wiggle your fingers or squeeze one of those stress relief balls you may be given. Moving the muscles in your arm stimulates blood flow to your muscles which deadens the nerves in your arm and of course lessens the pain.
After you donate once or twice, it will be no big deal.
Donating blood does not leave scars because the time between donations is enough for your body to do what’s called regeneration. A body either regenerates itself or repairs itself. Regeneration means your body gets returned to ‘like new’ condition. Repair means scarring. You won’t be giving blood enough to induce scarring unless you’re very old and your regeneration process has slowed greatly. To take extra precautions, it’s wise to use a product such as NEOSPORIN afterwards to quicken healing time. Also, switch which arm you use each time you give. Your veins will not collapse either because you cannot give blood often enough for this to happen. It’s one reason why there are limits as to how often a person can give.
Amount of Money You Can Make by Donating Your Blood (Plasma)
Most people refer to it just as donating blood but it’s what’s in your blood that matters. Plasma. When asking how to donate blood for money, you’re really wondering how to donate plasma for money. But don’t worry, as far as you are concerned, it’s just a blood draw. The extraction of plasma isn’t something you need to worry about.
The prices for donating ‘blood’ varies. Prices vary based on your location and supply and demand. Although $30 is a safe number to assume you’ll receive. I read of prices range anywhere from $10-$60. You can donate plasma as often as twice per week. The blood bank you visit may limit that number if they choose to.
There’s an article in The Atlantic about a woman donating 10 times per month. The article said that was the legal limit but everywhere else I’ve read caps it at 2x weekly.
So by donating blood (plasma) you could make a maximum of about $500 per month. That’s $6,000 per year! However, don’t depend on that number. I think a safe number $240 per month. Keep in mind, if you ever get sick, get a tattoo in certain states (see list below) or have low iron, you cannot donate for a time. So if you want a little influx in cash, donating plasma isn’t a bad deal. But do not depend on it for any sort of regular income. Consider the money to be welcome bursts of cash. Don’t try to make donating plasma your job.
Amounts Paid to People with Rare Blood Types
Although the article is entitled “Donating Blood,” it’s really the plasma in that blood that donation centers want. This means that when it comes to plasma, blood type doesn’t matter. Plasma is blood type blind. Generally speaking, all blood types (A, B, AB, and O) are compensated the same.
The only thing that may make a difference is the Rh designation (+ or -). Rh-negative blood is much rarer than Rh-positive blood. Pregnant women who are Rh-negative and have an Rh-positive baby are at risk of hemolytic disease of the newborn, or HDN. HDN can be fatal to the baby, and the primary way to treat the disease is with therapies made from donated Rh-negative plasma. As a result of its importance in treating HDN and its relative scarcity, donors with Rh-negative blood will often be compensated more than Rh-positive donors.
People Who Cannot Donate Blood for Money
Not everyone can donate blood for money. If any you fall into any of these groups, you are ineligible for the time-being. Please don’t try to try to skirt the rules. They are in place to protect yourself and others.
This list was derived from mayoclinic.org:
- Anyone who has ever had drug injections not prescribed by a doctor (think illegal injection drugs or steroids)
- If you’re on a blood clotter
- Anyone who is HIV-positive
- Anyone who has exchanged sex for money or drugs
- Anyone who has had hepatitis after their 11th birthday
- Anyone who’s had babesiosis or Chagas’ disease
- Anyone who has taken etretinate (Tegison) for psoriasis
- Anyone who has received a blood transfusion in the UK or France between 1980 and present
- Anyone who has risk factors for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or who has a blood relative with CJD
- Anyone on isotretinoin (commonly referred to as Accutane though Accutane is a name-brand which is no longer in production) is barred from donating blood. Today, isotretinoin is sold under the brand names: Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, Zenatane. This drug is most commonly used for treating severe acne. You will know if you’re on this drug since you’ll have had to sign a lengthy medical waiver due to its side effects.
Changes to the MSM Rule for Blood Donation (The Rule About Donations from Gay Males)
For many years, any man that had ever had sexual contact with another man (MSM) was not allowed to donate blood due to concerns regarding HIV/AIDS. On December 21, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration changed that rule from a lifetime deferment to a one-year deferment, bringing the restriction in line with other activities that carry a risk of transmission (like tattooing, etc.). Keep in mind that the FDA’s ruling affected the federal laws, but not the policies of individual blood centers. AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the Red Cross support the new guidelines, although some of them may still be transitioning into this system, and there’s no guarantee that the staff members at every one of these centers have been trained on the updated procedure. Other organizations may or may not adopt the FDA’s guidelines. This will vary by the individual organization, and if this affects you, you may want to contact your local center in advance about whether they’ve updated their rules.
For the transgender community, the new guidelines define gender as self-identified and self-reported.
Blood Donation Restrictions if You’ve Been out of the United States
There are specific regulations on accepting blood from people who have lived or traveled abroad to various countries around the world. The regulations outlined here are what the Red Cross uses to determine eligibility, but most blood donation agencies will have the same or very similar guidelines.
One of the main concerns is “mad cow disease,” formally known as Creutzfeld Jacob Disease (CJD). This disease is found primarily in the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Falkland Islands, the Channel Islands, and Gibraltar. You will not be allowed to donate blood if you lived or stayed a cumulative total of 3 months or more in any of these countries between 1980-1996. At some plasma donation agencies, there may be additional restrictions if you lived, worked, or were stationed in other European countries during that time. If you have ever received a blood transfusion in the UK or France, you are not eligible to donate blood.
Another concern is malaria. Red Cross and most other blood donation organizations enforce waiting periods on people who have visited countries with a high malaria risk. The waiting periods are as follows:
- 12 months after returning from a malaria-risk country or area
- 3 years after completing a malaria treatment
- 3 years after living for more than 5 years in a malaria-risk country or area
- An additional 3 year waiting period may be required if you have visited a malaria-risk location without living more than 3 consecutive years in a malaria-free location
If you have traveled anywhere outside of the United States and Canada, expect to provide the details of your trip, including:
- The countries you visited
- Where you traveled within each country
- Whether you left the city/resort and where you went
- Your mode of transportation while abroad
- The duration of your visit
- Your return date to the U.S.
If you have your travel documents available, you might want to bring them along to clear up any questions that the health historian may ask during the screening process.
In addition to international travel, the Red Cross also requires that you wait at least four weeks from your last possible exposure to the Zika virus before donating blood.
Restrictions on Donating Blood if You Have Tattoos And/Or Piercings
Typically, tattoos are acceptable as long as you received them in a state that imposes health regulations on tattoo parlors. The states that don’t have these regulations are the following: District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming.
If you were tattooed in one of these states, you will need to wait at least 12 months after you got the tattoo to donate. This rule is in place to protect against the risk of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis, which can be transmitted via a tattoo needle. Particularly if you’re donating in a state that does not regulate tattoo parlors, you may want to bring proof that you were tattooed more than a year ago, or that you received the the tattoo in a state that does regulate tattoo parlors.
The same rule applies to piercings, ear or body. If you pierced by a sterile, single-use needle, which is the standard practice for most reputable piercing shops, you are free to donate blood. If there is any possibility of blood contamination, wait 12 months after receiving the piercing. This time period is long enough that if the virus is present, your immune system will have created an antibody response that can be flagged by blood screening tests.
These are the rules for donating blood at the Red Cross, but note that different organizations may have slightly different guidelines. For example, some places only require waiting 6 months after getting a tattoo in a non-regulated state. However, the rules are fairly consistent in most cases. Of course, feel free to contact the specific center where you want to donate if you have any questions.
Conditions That Won’t Disqualify You From Donating Blood for Money
Although there are numerous reasons that you may not be allowed to give blood, there are many common conditions have no effect on your ability to donate. Here are some common things that people may expect to affect their eligibility, but won’t actually prevent you from donating:
- Allergies (as long as you’re feeling well and don’t have a fever when you go in to donate)
- Asthma (as long as you feel well and have no trouble breathing when you donate, even if you’re taking asthma medication)
- High or low blood pressure – you can donate as long as your blood pressure is between 180/100 and 90/50 (systolic/diastolic)
- Chronic illnesses – in most cases, you can still donate with a chronic illness as long as you feel well at the time of the procedure and the condition is well-managed
- Diabetes – if your diabetes is well-controlled with oral medication or insulin, you’re welcome to donate
- Heart disease, provided you have no current symptoms and it’s been at least 6 months since you had a coronary event
- A recent infection, as long as you don’t have an active fever and it’s been at least 10 days since your last injection or dose of antibiotics
- Acne, skin disease, or rash, as long as the area where the blood will be drawn is healthy
- HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
- Chlamydia, genital herpes, or HPV, as long as you are feeling well at the time of donation
Donating Blood If You’re a Non-U.S. Citizen
There is limited organization-specific information about donating blood if you’re not a citizen of the United States. The most important factor in this situation isn’t your citizenship so much as your travel history. If you’ve spent time outside of America in the last several years, you may be deferred. This restriction is only in place because international travel means you may have been exposed to diseases that aren’t commonly found in the United States. Because they’re only concerned with the risk of infection, if you are a citizen of another country that has spent the last several years in the United States, you will most likely be allowed to donate blood.
The only organization that has specified rules for this situation is GRIFOLS. To donate blood with them as a non-U.S. citizen, you simply need to provide your ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). This policy may vary with different agencies, so you’ll want to call ahead to your local blood donation center if you have any further questions.
General Requirements for Blood Donation
- You must be over 110 pounds.
- The first step is to find buyers in your area. Check local hospitals, clinics and plasma donation centers. Call to see who pays the most. Biomat USA and CSL Plasma are major blood banks that may be in your area. There’s a large list of national blood banks listed below.
- Make an appointment.
Drug Testing Procedures Prior to Selling/Donating Blood
There isn’t much information available about drug testing procedures prior to selling/donating blood. But from what information has been published, it seems drug testing isn’t common. You may receive a drug test on your first appointment during a physical but after that – it’s not a huge concern for the buyers. It’s because most controlled substances don’t degrade the quality of blood and therefore, it’s not a concern if you have been on drugs recently. But of course these places don’t want to publish something online about how they don’t care that their donors do drugs. Though you will likely be questioned about using needles during drug use as that could lead to diseases that could harm others, should you donate.
You can always call your location prior to your first appointment and ask. No harm would be done.
- Octapharma Plasma: Don’t be under the influence of drugs upon arrival to sell blood. And drug tests vary from location to location.
- CSL Plasma: No information published about drug testing.
- GCAM Plasma, Inc.: A physical will be performed (the website’s pages aren’t well structured so you have to click on ‘donate’ tab after clicking the link)
- Interstate Blood and Plasma Inc. / Plasma Biological Services Inc.: A physical will be performed on your first visit.
- KEDPlasma, LLC: No information published about drug testing.
- Talecris Plasma Resources, Inc.: No information published about drug testing.
- Scantibodies Biologics: A physical will be performed on your visit.
- BPL Plasma: No specific information, but they do retain the right to exclude you from donating based on suspicion of alcohol ingestion. A physical will be performed on your first visit.
- BioLife Plasma: A physical will be performed on your first visit.
- Biotest Plasma: A physical will be performed on your first visit.
- SaturnBio: A physical will be performed on your first visit, as well as a possible urinalysis and “other basic lab procedures.”
- Southern Blood Services: A physical will be performed on your first visit.
Age Requirements for Donating Blood (Upper and Lower Age Requirements)
You must be at least 18 years old to sell blood. The maximum age which you can donate blood is 69 and many companies set their upper age limit to 64 or 65. Here are the age requirements of the most popular/common places to sell blood:
Octapharma Plasma Inc.: 18 (or age of majority in your state) – 64 If you are under age of majority if your state, you can still donate with consent from a legal guardian. State’s that have an age of majority other than 18 are:
- Delaware: 19
- Mississippi: 21
- Nebraska: 19
Talecris Plasma Resources, Inc. owns these three companies, all with the same age requirements:
Biomat USA, Inc.: 19-69 (scroll down to the section ‘Who can donate plasma?’)
PlasmaCare, Inc.: 18-69 (scroll down to the section ‘Who can donate plasma?’)
Talecris Plasma Resources, Inc.: 18-69 (scroll down to the section ‘Who can donate plasma?’)
Southern Blood Services: 18 or older (scroll down to the section ‘Who is eligible to donate plasma?’)
For informational purposes only, the American Red Cross allows you to donate blood at 17 – although some states allow you to donate at 16 with parental consent. There’s no upper age limit with the Red Cross as long as you’re ‘well’. The Red Cross really wants to get their hands on your blood.
There are no places to sell your blood if you’re under 18 – parental consent or not.
How the Process Works:
- Eat a healthy meal before arriving. Stay away from too many fats. Also drink two extra glassfuls of water.
- Once there, you’ll have a pre-screening interview. Expect to receive a physical where a nurse will check your vitals, take a small blood sample with a finger prick, and ask some routine health questions. You may also undergo a drug test and a verification of your ID and physical address. Nothing too unexpected.
- Whether you’re donating blood outright or donating it for profit, you’ll need a form of ID and proof of residency (usually a bill or bank statement).
- The process can take about three hours from entering the blood bank to leaving.
- You can read a book, use your phone, whatever you want to do to pass the time.
How Long Does Is Take to Donate Blood Plasma?
For first time donors, it typically takes two hours to donate plasma – from entering the facility to exiting. Returning visits typically only take an hour and a half since the pre-screening paperwork and physical examination has already been done.
How long is the needle actually in your arm? When you merely give blood (not plasma) the needle does not need to be in your arm for long. When donating blood, the actual donation itself takes an average of 5-15 minutes at most places. 30 minutes is the most any blood donation center says it takes. So the needle will be in your arm for a maximum of 30 minutes but probably only 10. However, when donating blood plasma, the needle will be in your arm for 30-55 minutes. The exact time varies based on your vein size, etc. so an exact number can’t be given since each person’s body is different. Donating plasma takes about 20-40 minutes longer than donating whole blood because when you donate plasma, the plasma gets taken out while the rest of your blood gets returned back into your body through the process called the plasmapheresis process. The components being returned are red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This allows a person to donate plasma far more often than they can donate blood. Returning these components is what allows for a person to donate plasma as often as twice in a seven day period.
After the needle is inserted, there should be no pain or discomfort.
How Your Body May React to Donating a Pint of Blood
All bodies react differently. But for the most part, people describe the experience as mild discomfort, at worst. But after you donate blood a few times, you really don’t notice any discomfort at all. I’ve given blood once monthly when I was under the drug Accutane (for acne). It’s not even something you think about after awhile. And this is coming from someone who has a natural aversion to needles.
During the blood extraction process, you’ll be monitored closely. Your safety will not really be at risk. Ask them to poke your non-dominate hand. They will usually ask you that first though. They first prick your finger to make sure the blood is as good as they expect. Next, they place a needle in your arm to begin drawing out the blood (and plasma). During the draw, you may become a little light headed. But remember that the physical you had before determined if you are healthy enough to give. You’ll be fine. Simply calm down. Take a few breaths. Enjoy reading your book, listening to music, watching TV or using your phone. Afterwards you will be offered delicious food to re-engerize yourself before leaving. Donuts and cookies are commonly found. Yes, you can donate blood for money and tasty treats!
After the Procedure
For the day or two following the procedure, you’ll want to drink extra fluids to help your body replenish the lost blood. Try to get plenty of rest and don’t undertake anything too strenuous for the rest of the day. Some people experience a small degree of light-headedness in the hours immediately after donating blood; if this happens to you, just lie down with your feet up, and the feeling should pass within a few minutes.
Be sure to leave the bandage on for at least the next four or five hours following the procedure. If the needle-stick gives you any pain, you can take a pain reliever like acetaminophen (but avoid aspirin or ibuprofen). You can also ice the affected area periodically to help reduce bruising. Typically, you’ll feel absolutely normal within a day or two after the procedure, or even sooner.
Although it’s very rare, some people do experience more prolonged side effects from donating blood. If you experience any of the following, get in touch with the blood center right away:
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous after resting, eating and drinking
- Pain or a tingling sensation in your arm or into your fingers
- Pain, unusual bleeding, or a raised bump at the needle-stick site
- Symptoms of a flu or a cold, such as fever, sore throat, or headache within four days of giving blood. These can be signs of bacterial infection, which can be transmitted through blood. You’ll want to alert the blood donor center so they know not to use your blood.
Blood banks often pay either via cash or a prepaid debit card. Many blood banks simply add more money to your card each time you come in. Pretty simple stuff.
Is Selling Blood Taxable Income?
I cannot find an official statement from the IRS. However, the consensus from blood banks is that since you’re ‘donating’, it’s not taxable income. If it is at any point considered taxable (like if you began earning thousands per year) then it may trigger a taxation event. If this happens, your blood bank must get your social security number and send you a W-9. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t worry about it. You’re doing a good thing by donating. It appears the government will leave you alone.
How to Get Started Donating Blood for Money
Now that you’ve read this post, it’s time to get started donating blood for money. Here’s the first step:
Google ‘plasma centers near me’. See what appears. If only a few locations appear, use the list I compiled above and search each website for locations near you. Call each one and get price quotes. Pick whatever one is close and pays well. Make an appointment at whatever time of day is convenient for you. Bring something to do since, as I mentioned, it will take hours for the process to be complete. Make sure to bring the appropriate forms of ID. Without the proper ID, you cannot donate blood.
By donating – or even selling – blood, you’re helping yourself as well as helping someone else. It’s a win-win. That’s the best way to go through life – look for win-win scenarios all the time. Never feel like you’re getting screwed or anyone else is getting screwed. Now that you know how to donate blood for money, you can help out everyone involved. And enjoy some cookies.
Most Popular Places to Donate Blood throughout the United States
The first step to being able to donate blood for money is simply knowing where to sell your blood. The following companies offer locations throughout the United States. Besides this list, there are many local or regional options as well. To uncover these, simply Google ‘places to donate blood near me.’ Google will display the locations nearest you. Hospitals and medical schools are hot spots for donation so if they are suggested, don’t be surprised. Here are the largest places to donate blood:
Southern Blood Services – Locations only in Birmingham, AL, Tuscaloosa, AL, Nashville, TN