We have all been told by our high school teachers, blood advocate friends or even neighbors that blood donation can save lives. When we give blood, we don’t only help ourselves stay healthy, we also save the nameless people in dire need of a blood transfusion to stay alive. It’s a form of altruism and we feel satisfied when we are able to help.
But not all donations are free. Some come at a certain price. Take blood plasma donation, for instance. First time plasma donors are paid $20 while subsequent donations pay you $40-$60! That’s a pretty decent amount for something that doesn’t require so much from you, right?
I could imagine the next words coming out from your mouth would be:
Wait, whaaat? Did you just say that one is paid for donating plasma? But I thought donation is an altruistic act, how come you are compensated for it?
First of all, you have to know that there are two types of plasma donations:
1. Non-profit Donation. This is the type that does not pay you for your donation because the collected pint are used to be transfused into humans. Example of donation centers that observe this is the American Red Cross.
2. For-profit Donation. It pays for your donated plasma because your plasma will be sold to drug and research companies to create life-saving plasma therapies. Examples of plasma donation centers that pay are Biological Life Plasma Service, DCI Biologicals Inc, Talecris Biothrapeutics and CSL Plasma.
So basically, those donation centers that pay your plasma will sell your fluid to big pharmaceutical companies. Is this a right thing to do? Should paid plasma donation be tolerated even if it kills the spirit of altruism in your supposed noble act?
Plasma centers justify that a donor is not paid for his donated fluids. Instead, a donor is compensated for his time and effort to go the donation center. A regular plasma donor can give plasma twice a week and it would take a huge amount of commitment to do this faithfully.
Therefore, the plasma industry developed a system of compensating donors to acknowledge their extraordinary commitment to secure a safe and sufficient supply of plasma. This is also a way for manufacturers to maintain the amount of needed plasma to make life-saving therapies.
But whatever the reason may be for compensation, one thing remains irrevocable: people can earn money by selling plasma. For some, this can be like hitting two birds in one stone because they can earn money and save lives. But for some, this is not ethical because saving lives shouldn’t have a price.
What about you? What do you think about donating blood plasma and getting paid for it? We’d love to hear what you have in mind!