by Kassidy Hart–College students are always looking for ways to make easy money – and Morningside students are no strangers to the stereotype. One way that students have accomplished this, while also receiving intrinsic rewards, is through their choice to donate plasma. One of Sioux City’s plasma service facilities, BioLife Plasma, has seen a large number of college-age people participate.
“Donating plasma is a voluntary action and in line with industry practice. BioLife compensates individuals who donate in recognition of the time, commitment, and effort required,” BioLife Communications Lead Alicia Highlander said.
To donate plasma, students must meet a few eligibility requirements: they must be at least 18 years old, weigh no less than 110 pounds, and undergo a physical examination on their first visit. After they are verified to have met the criteria, healthy participants can partake in the plasmapheresis process as much as twice in a seven-day period, with one day between donations.
“Many of the therapies [for people around the world with rare, life-threatening diseases] can only be made from human plasma, as it cannot be manufactured in a lab or other artificial environment, meaning those who rely on plasma-derived therapies are dependent on people to regularly donate,” Highlander said.
Many Morningside students, including athletes, have begun to regularly donate plasma and making pretty good money from it. Freshman Caleb Watson, a Morningside Wrestler, has been donating twice a week for a month while on his off-season.
“A friend of mine on the wrestling team told me about it and it feels good to save a life while making money doing it,” Watson said.
Junior Ashley Wilcox, a Morningside Lacrosse player, also heard about the opportunity through another student who donates. She usually will donate twice a week but has had to pause while she is in the lacrosse season.
“It pays well per hour and is virtually painless. It’s low effort, you can read or do homework while donating, it’s like a free check-up every week, and it’s close to campus. Plus, the staff there is super friendly, and they will remember your name and things about you from previous conversations,” Wilcox said.
Although Wilcox has found the process rewarding and would encourage other students to donate, she does understand that, for some, there could be negatives to the experience.
“It does usually take an hour or two [to donate] so if you don’t have much time, it’s tough to find time to go. You also need to make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating the right food and you can’t do any heavy lifting or activities afterwards,” Wilcox said.
Freshman Kayla Eilander, a Morningside Track and Field runner, donated a couple times but had a poor experience with donating the last time she went in and has not been back since.
“I got super dizzy during the process and passed out, so they had to stop and reinsert the needle in my other arm to give me my blood back,” Eilander said.
The experience is different for everyone and this is something that students should understand when they begin to consider donating. Although there can be a potential risk, it is low and many students have shown to actually enjoy the experience overall.
“If you’re hesitant, you should know the process – a simple, low-risk process – has been around for decades. We encourage all those who donate, or who are interested to do so, to learn more about how their plasma can help many people in many different circumstances whose lives may be at risk,” Highlander said.
Donations are lower than usual right now, due to the pandemic and demand for plasma-derived therapies growing worldwide, so the need for human plasma is more urgent than ever. If you are interested in donating plasma and making some extra money, BioLife encourages students to sign up via their website, www.biolifeplasma.com, or by downloading the BioLife App.