Plasma donation can help, hurt
Opinions on donating plasma are diverse among the students at Oklahoma Christian University. While some students feel it is a safe and easy way to make money, donating has physically injured some students.
Johnnie Smith, manager of ZLB Plasma on NW 23rd Street, wants more college students to donate plasma.
“A very slim amount of college students donate. I’d say around 1 percent,” Smith said. “We’d like to attract more college students because they’re a good group to attract.”
While a student can make $40 twice a week by donating plasma, there are risks involved.
Senior Ryan Stephenson has been donating plasma since last fall. He is a student who, because of his busy schedule, uses donating plasma as a way to make money instead of having a job.
“I’m on the tennis team at OC, and just between practice and matches and classes, I don’t really have time to get a job or anything,” Stephenson said. “It’s an easy way to make quick money.”
Junior Heather Johnson has donated plasma twice. She donated for the money and because she was aware of the need for volunteers at blood and plasma centers. She wanted to help others, but Johnson said the money was not worth the pain she experienced on her second visit to donate plasma.
“They hit my vein wrong, and blood just went everywhere,” Johnson said. “It poured out over all of the tables, and the blood went all over the floor. It hurt pretty badly, and I got light headed.”
Johnson she was bandaged up, but no one gave her an explanation as to what had happened.
“It was kind of scary, and I obviously decided not to donate anymore after that,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s arm was sore for six months, and she still has not regained all of her strength in her arm. She also cannot donate blood or plasma anymore because her vein is too hard to get to. She said the clinic ruined the only good vein she had.
Stephenson has also experienced a mishap while donating plasma.
“One time, they messed up, and the needle got out of my vein,” Stephenson said. “My arm swelled up really big, and while I was there, I blacked out a little bit.”
Stephenson said this is the only negative experience he has had with the clinic.
Not everyone has a bad experience or thinks donating is an unsafe idea. Junior Kirk Brown has donated once a week since the week before Thanksgiving. He said it’s an easy way to make money and is very safe. Brown has had an overall great experience with donating.
“I do feel that it is extremely safe. They are very careful and use only disposable equipment,” Brown said. “Nothing that ever comes in contact with you will be used with someone else. I feel that the people that work there are very well trained to do what they need to in order to safely take your plasma.”
While Brown thinks it is a very safe procedure to go through, he admits that it can be quite painful.
“Sometimes the needle hurts pretty badly when it is there,” Brown said. “Some people are better at sticking than others. If you get a good stick, then it is a fine, pleasant experience, but if you get stuck too hard, or it bleeds, then it’s really uncomfortable the whole time but not an unbearable experience.”
Clinics allow donors to give plasma up to twice a week. It’s an easy way to make $80, but Johnson feels this may have been the reason her vein reacted the way it did.
“They say you can donate plasma twice a week, but don’t do that because it’s really hard on your vein,” Johnson said. “They don’t tell you that, and they don’t inform you enough.”
Donors must be at least 18 years old, have no tattoos, weigh a certain amount, and have a specific heart rate and blood pressure. They must also fill out a medical survey each time they donate. Stephenson said the survey is pretty extensive.
Johnson would recommend donating plasma as long as one knows all of the information about it.
“I recommend it to help people, but make sure you know the person is really experienced and knows what they’re doing,” Johnson said.
Brown believes students should donate not only because it is a very easy way to make money, but also because it would be valuable to science and helpful to others.