Plenty of people regularly donate blood to various not-for-profit blood banks. In addition to donating blood simply as a way to help those in need, many people also donate to one of the numerous corporations that offer compensation for plasma. Some companies, such as Octapharma Plasma, even run customer loyalty programs offering prizes to repeat donors. In this article, we’ll cover all the basics of donating plasma, participating in the Octapharma Rewards program, keeping track of the balance on an Octapharma prepaid card, and how to get the most Octapharma Rewards points possible.
What This Article Covers:
Finding Plasma Donation Centers
The Plasma Donation Process
Plasma versus Whole Blood
Payment Methods for Blood and Plasma
The Octapharma Plasma Card Overview
How to Check Your Octapharma Card Balance
Taking Advantage of the Octapharma Rewards Program
Getting Paid to Donate Blood to Octapharma Plasma and Elsewhere
Blood is a booming business. What started in the 1930’s as small individual blood banks have morphed into a full-fledged industry. Perhaps spurred on by the countless soldiers injured in WWII, the Red Cross began setting up networks to ensure a steady and reliable source of blood for transfusions.
It takes money to run organizations such as the Red Cross, which has an annual operating budget of approximately $1.7 billion. Much of that money goes toward ensuring a safe blood supply, which is an expensive process. Because of the costs associated with preparing blood for research and treatment, making money means selling blood to hospitals for between $130.00 and $150.00 per pint. The official line is that hospitals reimburse the Red Cross for the expenses connected to providing blood to patients and that the organization does not charge for the blood itself. Whether it is the actual substance or its processing that hospitals pay for, the Red Cross generates its revenue from blood — and so do many other companies, including Octapharma Plasma.
What Is Plasma?
Plasma is one of the several components that make up blood. About 45 percent of whole blood is made up of red cells, white cells, and platelets. These are suspended in plasma, which makes up the other 55 percent of whole blood. Plasma is a liquid made up of approximately 92 percent water, 7 percent vital proteins, and 1 percent mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones, and vitamins.
All parts of blood are useful. However, plasma has some special properties. Plasma maintains blood pressure and delivers critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. It also helps the body maintain a proper pH (acid-base) balance, which is critical for proper cell function.
Another key characteristic of plasma is its shelf life. Compared with most other blood components, plasma remains usable for a long time after donation.
Shelf Life and Storage Conditions for Blood Components:
- Plasma: 1 year (frozen)
- Whole Blood: 21 to 35 days (refrigerated)
- Red Blood Cells: Up to 42 days (refrigerated)
- Platelets: 5 days (room temperature with constant agitation to prevent clumping)
- Cryoprecipitated AHF: 1 year (frozen)
Additionally, plasma is a very safe blood product regarding blood-borne viruses. All plasma donors go through the same type of initial screening as regular blood donors. After the intake screening, plasma goes through an additional purification process that removes viruses before being broken down and made into medical therapies and treatments.
Octapharma is one of a number of private businesses that collects plasma and compensates donors for their time. With close to 60 donation centers nationwide, the Octapharma website touts the company’s recognition of the responsibility to provide a “positive, customer-focused experience.” Finding an Octapharma location is simple — just go to the Octapharma Donation Centers page to see if there’s a donation center nearby.
The Octapharma Plasma Donation Process
The process of collecting blood plasma is called plasmapheresis. It involves cycling a donor’s blood through sterile equipment that separates plasma from other blood components. The apparatus collects the plasma and returns the other blood components to the body of the donor.
Despite the fact that the term “donation” is usually associated with giving something away for free, in the blood business, it generally applies to any blood collection — compensated or otherwise. Once you’ve located a center that accepts plasma donations, be sure to allow enough time for the entire procedure. The Octapharma process takes up to two hours from start to finish. While the procedure may vary slightly from one location to the next, it will usually look something like this:
- Checking in. This includes verifying ID, social security card number, and proof of current address.
- Watching a short video on the plasma donation process.
- Compiling a medical history, including an in-depth health questionnaire.
- Discussing confidential, informed consent and reviewing the plasma donation process.
- Running blood tests.
- Entering the donation area.
- Having a sterile needle inserted into your vein by a phlebotomist (most donors report that they barely feel anything; it’s really not too bad!).
- Relaxing while your blood cycles through sterile equipment that separates plasma from other blood components. This part, where the needle is actually in your arm, typically takes about 30-55 minutes.
Most places will provide drinks and snacks to help your body bounce back from the donation. Remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after the procedure to avoid dehydration and minimize potential aftereffects. It’s recommended that donors avoid any strenuous activity for the rest of the day, but most people feel 100% again in less than 24 hours after donating plasma.
Plasma Donor Requirements
Individuals looking to sell plasma must meet certain criteria in order to participate. Donors at Octapharma must:
- Be in good health
- Be between the ages of 18 and 64
- Have a healthy arm vein for drawing blood
- Weigh at least 110 pounds
- Have no ear piercings, body piercings, tattoos, or permanent makeup that were done in the previous 12 months
If you have any specific questions about whether a medical condition affects your eligibility to donate, please contact the nearest Octapharma donation center. Qualified individuals may donate as frequently as twice a week, with at least two days between plasma donations.
Octapharma Plasma Payments
Donating blood is admirable. However, receiving payment for donating blood makes the deal that much sweeter. At Octapharma, after completing a donation, donors receive an Octapharma Plasma Visa debit card. The card may be reloaded after every successful plasma donation. The Visa debit card is just one part of the Octapharma compensation plan, which breaks down into three parts:
- Pre-paid Visa debit cards
- Donor promotions that provide donors with the chance to win prizes or make even more money through bonuses
- OPI Rewards+ customer loyalty program that awards points to qualify for certain incentives (Express Passes, e-gift cards, and sweepstakes)
The amount paid for plasma often varies by geographic region and demand. Octapharma’s donor promotions page will list special deals and offers, which may mean earning even more money for donations. Generally speaking, new donors can make up to $250 for their first five plasma donations. After that, compensation levels are based on weight.
- Donors weighing between 110 and 175 pounds are paid $20 for their first donation of the week and $15 for the second.
- Donors weighing over 175 pounds are paid $25 for the first donation of the week, $15 for the second.
More plasma can be extracted from a donor with a higher weight, which is why Octapharma pays these individuals more for their donation. We contacted Octapharma to obtain this payout information, but please note that these are baseline figures only; rates may vary among different donation centers.
Octapharma’s website offers little guidance on using and monitoring the debit card. Instead, Octapharma refers any questions about checking the balance, using the debit card, or reporting the card lost or stolen to the Citigroup website. This is how you check your Octapharma card balance. Octapharma Rewards are run through this portal. From here, customers can register their card, set up a username and password, and log in to access all the relevant information about their prepaid card. Customers can also call Citigroup support at (866) 326-8689.
There are some fees associated with the Citibank prepaid card (the Octapharma Plasma card). Customers can expect relatively high ATM withdrawal fees — typically around $3 per withdrawal — as well as fees incurred with every transaction (except for the very first purchase after a donation, which will be fee-free). Citibank would not disclose the specific fees associated with an Octapharma card, but similar cards have transaction fees up to $2.50 per purchase. Be sure to contact Citibank if you have any specific questions about the fees associated with the prepaid card.
Taking Advantage of the Octapharma Rewards Program
OPI Rewards+ is Octapharma’s customer loyalty program. After at least 48 hours after their second successful donation, individuals can register online for the program. Members earn points with every donation, where one donation equates to one point. Those points go towards tiered rewards including:
- Express Passes (less time in the waiting room on a subsequent visit)
- e-Gift cards
- Special sweepstakes
The program runs annually, from January to December, and members accumulate points during that period. One important thing to keep in mind is that the points reset every year. In other words, there is no carryover of unused points into the next year.
Other ways to earn points include referrals of donors to Octapharma and participating in surveys. Members can track their points online from their computer or phone. The online portal will also allow members to obtain information on special promotions and redeem points simply by logging into their online OPI Rewards+ account. Members earn one point for:
- Every successful plasma donation made at an Octapharma Plasma donation center
- Every new donor referral who makes a successful plasma donation at an Octapharma Plasma donation center
- Special promotions
- Survey participation
- Social media activity
The company rolled out a revamped rewards program in early 2016. At the time, complaints abounded on the Internet about the loyalty program. Despite these complaints, the program is very similar to most customer loyalty programs, where the provider wants to promote their business while giving out as little as possible.
As for reviews on donation experiences, reports vary from location to location. One donation center may have stellar reviews on the staff and facilities while another location is universally panned. Some locations have reviews from both sides of the spectrum. Once you find your nearest donation center, it’s worth looking into the reviews for that location to decide if donating at that particular site is right for you. A review site like Yelp can provide you with a basic idea of other people’s experiences at that donation center — but do keep in mind that customer reviews typically trend negative, so consider taking some of those reviews with a grain of salt.
Finally, many people on review sites and social media have weighed in on the payment method used by Octapharma. Using a Visa debit card should be a straightforward process, but many have complained that the charges to withdraw cash from the card at ATMs are high — generally in the neighborhood of $3 per transaction. Many people recommend getting around this by using the cash back option when purchasing an item at a store. However, there is a charge for each purchase made using the card, except for the first use after a donation (this transaction is free). The use of prepaid cards is not unique to Octapharma, however, and many other plasma collection companies have a comparable system in place for compensating donors. While these fees may be inconvenient, they are the norm for the plasma collection business.
Octapharma Rewards, Octapharma Card Balance, and More: Final Thoughts
Octapharma, through its partnership with Citigroup, makes it simple to access the Octapharma prepaid rewards program and stay informed about the balance of the Octapharma Rewards card. There are numerous organizations that collect plasma from donors in exchange for monetary rewards, but Octapharma is one of the most well-established and widespread of these agencies. The information in this article provides everything you need to know about becoming an Octapharma donor and taking advantage of the rewards offered for plasma donation. Enjoy your Cctapharma card!
And if you’d like to know exactly how to earn $500 per month donating plasma, consider reading this article.