Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blood Money: How to Get It

       If you’re thinking about selling your kidney, private parts or a slice of your liver to make easy money, here’s a better idea: You can earn quick cash for beer, a fill up, or even chocolates for mom at a blood plasma center. You heard right—cash, not a check or credit to your account. Because blood plasma centers are run by righteous folks dedicating to providing their clients with instant funds for subsequent activities of their own choosing. Once you’re out the door, the money is yours and so is temporary financial freedom, although your blood sugar levels may be low for 24 to 48 hours. So buy a Dove Bar. You’ll have the dough.

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     Finding a place to “donate” blood plasma isn’t hard; in fact, it’s a booming business. Blood plasma centers have popped up across the country in recent years to meet demand for their life-saving products. There’s most likely a facility located near a college campus in your town, because, to coin an industry slogan, “Student Plasma Is Welcome!”  Yes, the universe of acceptable donors extends beyond selfless leprechauns who sprout like mushrooms in the shade of train trestles. 
     By the way, even if you’ve managed to acquire a college degree and you’ve graduated into the “real” world, friendly blood center staffers will still be delighted to stick a needle in your arm.  (And, although many of the materials put out by the industry are aimed at college students, they are equally applicable to any greedy bastard.)
     Such is the importance of a youthful population, educated or not, to the country’s blood supply that academic papers are even published on the subject.  One example, in Volume 19, number 2 of Sociological Spectrum, confirms the predominance of young donors.  According to the abstract of “Selling Blood: Characteristics and Motivations of Student Plasma Donors,” 10 percent of surveyed U.S. university students report selling plasma.
     In an eye-opening passage, the researchers conclude that “…paid student plasma donors tended to be predominantly male and from higher income families and to have higher rates of employment while in school. They also exhibited greater rates of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Unlike non-remunerated Red Cross donors, (these) plasma donors do not feel a strong identification with the altruistic aspects of the blood donor role. Rather, they are motivated to continue donating in order to secure an easy source of pocket money, which they tend to spend freely, especially on social drinking in student bars.”  Amazing, isn’t it?  The authors are describing you. Or maybe your best buddy.
     However, even if you don’t fit the typical profile, giving the gift of plasma can be a savvy move to make. Although upright citizens may consider it an undignified way to turn a buck, donors receive $20 to $40 per visit and are allowed to make two donations a week. When you surprise your lady with a stunning bouquet of roses, how’s she going to know you bought it with cash earned by your very own blood platelets?
     Another option: Tell your significant other the truth. Talk up how good giving plasma made you feel. That allowing a nurse to insert the needle in her vein would be an altruistic act she, too, would never forget. Convince her to wear that sequined tube top you like so she won’t even need to roll up a sleeve!  Then—quick—before your girl gets cold feet, swing by the center. Within a half hour she’ll have made her donation and you’ll have enough cash for a gourmet pizza before hitting the clubs.  Plus a truckload of brownie points for showing what a caring guy you are.
     Need more convincing? Here’s a touching testimonial from a guy named Phil at “I was a young starving college student once and got involved with these plasma donation centers. It was a great way for me to get a handle on my bills without much effort, also I learned about how blood helps people and cord blood banking as well. I would do homework, read magazines…even watch TV while having the economic resources for school supplies, or a sub sandwich.
    Plus, you’ll broaden your horizons and meet interesting people, like: 
·        Lefty: So-named because of the missing nostril melted down by cocaine.
·        Rafael: Devised groundbreaking formula:  two pints plasma = one pint cheap vodka.
·        Sex Machine: Groans in ecstasy when nurse inserts needle.
·        Dr. Rockit: Old school break dancer; head permanently cocked to the right.
     Your fellow donors may even invite you to share a communal beer in the alley!
      Footnote number 1: A sign at an Oregon clinic warns that men may not donate if they’ve had sex with another male after 1977.
     Footnote number 2: According to the Southern Illinois University student newspaper, a local ghost researcher suspects that the basement beneath a plasma center in downtown Carbondale may be haunted.  Consider yourself warned.