Being broke in college isn’t new, but some students have found that donating plasma can help ease the burden of day-to-day expenses while also helping others.

 According to the United States Biolife Plasma services webpage, “Plasma is the pale-yellow liquid portion of your blood that can be easily replaced by the body. It consists mainly of water and proteins, which help your body control bleeding and infection.”

 “I first heard about it back in high school,” said McKinzi Vega, a senior. “I wanted to do it because it helps to have a little bit of pocket cash for surprise expenses.”

If you are not a nursing student, you probably aren’t thinking about things like plasma regularly and you might not know what it is.

Plasma donation is a simple process. Blood is a mixture of things, mostly plasma and red blood cells. The donation process separates them, keeps out the plasma and puts the red blood cells back. This is important because the red blood cells are what carry oxygen, and if you don’t have enough oxygen the other cells in your body die. Your body can make plasma quickly (in a day or two) but making red blood cells takes a lot longer and takes lots of iron.

This process helps insure that you lose no red blood cells while donating.

The local plasma donation center is called Biolife Plasma, and it is located in Elkhart on 2715 Emerson Drive.

Donors can donate two times a week and each time they are compensated. Donors receive $20 on the first donation of the week and $50 on the second donation of the week. Biolife sometimes offers specials for donating five times in one month or for bringing a friend and referring them to donate.

 If you are a first-time donor, you won’t get compensated until the second successful donation of the week. First-time donors will go through a physical on their first visit, so plan to spend about two-and-a-half the first time. Regular donation time only takes about 35-40 minutes. 

 Donating plasma isn’t strenuous work, but it can cause fatigue over time, said Corrie Osborne, a senior. Osborne began donating plasma after her sophomore year.   

“I’d recommend doing it for several weeks at a time, and then maybe taking a break to let your body recoup,” she said. “For some people, it’s nearly painless, and for others it hurts a bit more, but the technicians try to make sure that you are always comfortable.”

Donating plasma not only helps put money in the bank, but it also can save lives.

“The plasma collected at Biolife Plasma Services is processed into a wide variety of life-saving therapeutics that benefit thousands of people every day,” according to Biolife National.

“Plasma-based therapeutics are used in the treatment of serious disorders such as hemophilia and immune system deficiencies, and to treat victims of shock and burns.”

 Though donating isn’t for everyone, if you can stomach the sight of needles, stay healthy and donate regularly, it is a productive way for college students to make some extra money while saving lives along the way.

 “I’ve donated plasma all through college and it has really helped me with the little expenses along the way. Also, it’s nice knowing that I am helping someone else who needs it,” said Amber Heydon, a junior. “I was a recipient of plasma donation when I was in the hospital at 5 years old with a life-threatening illness, so it has a little extra meaning for me, personally.”