Many students donate plasma to supplement their incomes

Britt Johnsen

Twice each week, sophomore Tim Franke takes a couple hours from his day to give plasma at Aventis Bio-Services in Stadium Village.

“If students have spare time, and they don’t mind needles, (then it’s easy money),” said Franke, who had a job last semester but now depends on plasma for personal income.

Instead of waiting restaurant tables or working on-campus jobs, many students are turning to their own bodies to earn money.

Aventis manager Holt Peterson said students make up 80 percent of first-time plasma donors and about 30 percent to 45 percent of donors who give twice per week.

First-year student Michael Traxinger said because he is in marching band and taking 18 credits this semester, he cannot commit to a part-time job. So for spending money, he gives plasma once per week.

“I find it an easy way to make a couple bucks,” Traxinger said, adding that it is also a good community service.

First-year student Cassie Strong said she will donate as a community service and not just for the money.

“The money is a good bonus,” Strong said. “But when you donate plasma, you know you’re helping people.”

If a person meets certain health requirements, he or she can receive $20 for the first donation and $25 for the second. After that, money is based on regularity. In a seven-day period, people will receive $15 for the first donation and $30 for the next.

Once plasma is collected, it goes through a series of tests. When the blood is deemed usable, it is used to treat a variety of diseases and deficiencies. These include hemophilia, a blood-clotting disease. Plasma is also used to make rabies and tetanus vaccines.

On the first visit, a person must first have identification, proof of address and a Social Security card. Then the potential donor must answer a questionnaire and go through an interview process before moving on to the physical exam, during which blood is tested for red blood cell and protein levels.

Donors must be between ages 18 and 59 and cannot have been tattooed within the last 12 months, weigh less than 110 pounds, have had major surgery within the last six months or have diabetes.

Marilyn Joseph, Boynton Health Service medical director, said as long as people stay hydrated, there are no problems with donating plasma regularly.

Kim Cayz, director of corporate communications for Aventis, said the only drawback is the time

commitment.

“It can take up to two hours,” Cayz said. “It’s a process Ö (but) there’s no health risk for the donor.”