How to Make Money Selling Your Body

No, this isn’t a post about becoming an escort. My wife might have a problem if I sold my body that way. 🙂 Nor am I going to talk about selling organs on the black market. No, there are completely legal and legitimate methods of earning money with your body. Or rather your bodily fluids.

When people think about body fluids that people actually want, they usually think of blood or sperm. Blood, of course, is donated for free. No market for selling it. Sperm donations are paid, but are popular enough that 1)there are exams, checks, and questionnaires to ensure they only take the DNA of the cream of the crop. 2)To ensure that the healthiest possible wigglers, you can basically have no sex life. Sorry, I’ll pass.

Image via Wikipedia

There is a big market for selling eggs, but as I’m a male, I can’t really comment on that. So what’s left? It turns out that there are lots of components to blood. Whole blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. And plasma is really important.

Blood Plasma

What is plasma? The short answer is that it’s the liquid part of your blood. It’s usually described as straw colored, but it looks more like urine to me. In contains the free proteins that your body uses for a host of things including cellular repair and immune function.

It turns out that there are a lot of medications that rely on human plasma. Pretty much anything used to treat auto-immune diseases. The flu vaccine.  So drug companies need a pay of procuring human plasma. A common method is owning your own donation centers. That’s the case for the place I go to, CSL Plasma.

What it takes to donate plasma

You need to be in reasonably good health. That much is obvious. Don’t go if you have a cold. Not only is there the risk of spreading it in the donated plasma, you NEED that plasma for your body to heal yourself. Likewise, they won’t take you if you’ve recently had surgery or lost or donated blood.

Besides colds, you can’t donate if you’ve come into contact with smallpox or it’s vaccine, have, live with, or intimate with someone who has Hepatitis or HIV. If you’ve spend a certain amount of time in England, France, or other countries that had mad-cow outbreaks. Had a tattoo or piercing in the last year. There are a few other issues they ask about, but I can’t remember them at this time.

Before You Go Into the Plasma Center

For 1-2 days before donating, eat a diet that is high protein, low-fat and low-carb, and drink plenty of water. Also, avoid iron-rich foods. Carbs and fat convert to lipids in the bloodstream and they will clog the tubing. Protein will help your body recoup the proteins it loosing in the donation. Drinking lots of water will thin your blood, making the process faster. Iron does the opposite. Basically they will test your iron count (called a hermatocrit) to make sure it is under 55%. Under 50% is better.

At the plasma center

Each time you donate plasma, you will have to answer a short questionnaire and receive a quick screening which involves taking your weight and blood pressure, plus drawing a small amount of blood to test your hermatocrit level and blood protein level. The prick your finger like diabetics who test their glucose. The vial they fill is about as wide as the tube that holds the ink in a pen and half as long.

Then you will go out to the donation floor. You will sit in a “bed” which is like a raised chase lounge. A rather large gauge needle will be stuck in your arm on the inside of your elbow. The needles is attached to a tub that goes to a machine next to you. This is a pheresis machine, which will centrifuge the drawn blood, deposit the plasma in a bottle, and return the red blood cells to you. It will draw blood, centrifuge, and return blood about 5-7 times, with the last time it will include 500 ml of saline solution to rehydrate the liquid you lost in the process.

Depending on body weight, hydration, and hermatocrit, plus some other factors, most people will take between 45 minutes and 70 minutes to complete a donation. For some reason, I’ve never been able to get my hermatocrit under 47%, plus I have “thick blood.” I average about 70-90 minutes. Also, figure half an hour to get through screening.

Most centers play movies to pass the time, but many read (I do), listen to their ipod, or work on laptops.

How much I make donating plasma

US regulations limit you to no more than 2 donations per 7 day period and at least two days apart. How much you can donate per visit is determined by weight. And the more you donate, the more you make. By weighing at least 175lbs, I am in the highest weight class and can donate the full 880ml per visit. Most plasma donation centers will pay more for the first donation of the week than the second. My center pays $20 for the first visit and $35 for the second.

That works out to $55 for the week for 3-4 hours of sitting and reading. That works out to potentially nearly $3000 per year, tax free.

CSL Plasma also sweetens the pot with what they call Z Rewards (Z Because the parent company is ZLB). Each time you donate, you earn a Z Reward that can be redeemed towards things like gift cards.

The Cons of Donating Plasma

There are some downsides to this. For one, since starting to donate, I get colds more frequently, since I’m consistently weakening my immune system. And of course, colds mean no donating.

The needle can get uncomfortable after a while. If you are one of those quick donators, you probably won’t experience the problem, but after the needle’s been in for 80 minutes, it can start to get sore.

The saline is COLD. Well, not really, but it’s room temperature, and your veins are accustomed to being quite a bit warmer than room temperature, so it feels cold.

Sometimes the professionals that stick the needle in your arm miss the vein. It’s not a mark against them. It happens. Especially if you have roll-y veins. If that happens, a bruise can form. If you have a bruise near where they needle goes in, on either arm (they need a backup), then you will be deferred until the bruise clears.

Speaking of where the needle goes in, over time, scar tissue will form. That can make the needle harder to go into the vein, slow down the donation process, and it’s kind of unsightly.

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5 thoughts on “How to Make Money Selling Your Body

  1. I’ve donated blood a bunch of times and donated plasma once. I didn’t get paid (I don’t think my state at the time allowed payment for blood), but I did score a free starbucks gift card.

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