Donating or Selling? Students Give Plasma for Money

Erik Kersting

Twice every week, hundreds of students from The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point make a pilgrimage to Bus Park Dr. where Biolife Plasma Services gives them cash for donating plasma.

The process isn’t too long or arduous and pays well, which helps contribute to the large amount of patrons the business gets from the university. While many scared of needles may cringe at the thought, more and more students are giving their plasma in exchange for money.

John Schoneman is an arts management major who gives plasma twice every week, carpooling with his friends.

“I give plasma because I don’t have a job so it’s really nice to have the extra money. Even when I do get a job, I’m probably going to continue to do it because it is a good way to supplement your income, it’s incredibly easy, and it’s helpful for the people who need it. There is definitely a demand for it.”

Plasma money can be used on basically anything that can be payed for with a credit card. “I use my plasma money for living. I buy food and groceries with it. I use it to pay my bills every month, like my electricity bill. Sometimes I go out to eat with it,” Schoneman said.

Alec Grefe, a Communications major, helped explain the process of giving plasma.

“You go into the building, and then you fill out a questionnaire on the touch screen. You pretty much answer ‘no’ for everything except the last questions. You go, and they prick your finger and take some blood, see if your iron levels and temperature are good. Once they pass you on, you’re good to go, and they give you a section, like gold or red. You sit down and wait for a phlebotomist to come and hook you up. You can read a book or go on your phone for however long it takes to donate. Usually, for me it takes 35 to 40 minutes to donate.”

Grefe uses his money sparingly. “For the most part, I save it. Then I spend it on groceries,” Grefe said. If I’m not saving or buying food, I might splurge and get a video game— ‘Bioshock,’ which just came out.”

While giving plasma helps people in need, both Grefe and Schoneman think students give plasma just for the money. “I think most students go to plasma to get the fifty bucks a week so they can eat because school is so expensive and they need money.” Grefe said.

Schoneman explained, “I think everyone gives plasma for the money, to be honest. I don’t think the motive is really a bad thing because the people who need the plasma are obviously getting the plasma they need. The fact that most people donate just for the money is more of an afterthought.”

While they agree most students give for plasma money, they are unsure what to call the process. Schoneman seemed pessimistic and said, “You’re getting paid to do it so it’s not a donation. I think they frame it that way because it sounds nicer.”

Grefe was more optimistic. “I don’t necessarily consider it selling because something good happens to you and something good happens to the other person. Selling has negative connotations to it, I feel.”

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