College students, the unemployed, the down-and-out, queue up before opening time at Albuquerque's Blood Plasma Donor Center, CSL Plasma, at 1307 Central NE, or the Albuquerque Plasma Corp., across from the bus terminal.
How Much Does the Albuquerque New Mexico Plasma Center Pay?
The hundreds of plasma donors in Albuquerque, many of them "regulars" at the two centers, each receive $20 or $30 for a donation and another $40 if they donate a second time in a week — the maximum the federal regulations allow. Albuquerque Plasma Corp., which pays $20 for the first donation, alto pays a "referral" fee of $10 for each new donor that previous donors bring in.
It's a pretty big business. And it's gone over "with a fine-tooth comb" by inspectors of the Bureau of Biologies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, say managers of the Blood Plasma Donor Centers in Albuquerque New Mexico.
There are some 30 to 40 pages of federal regulations that govern the operations of plasma donor centers, say federal plasma inspectors in Albuquerque. Basically, the regulations try to insure that donors are protected and the product is safe.
Are Albuquerque Plasma Centers Different from Blood Banks?
The plasma centers are often confused with United Blood Services, the non-profit, all-volunteer, blood bank. Blood Services went to the unpaid volunteer system four years ago because it was getting "less than desireable" paid blood donors. While blood Services supplies whole blood and other blood products to hospital patients throughout northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the plasma donor centers send their product to a different market.
The plasma is shipped to companies which refine and purify it to be used in vaccines and serums and for diagnostic purposes. Plasma is not transfused directly into patients. Plasma donors may donate twice a week, and blood donors may donate once every eight weeks.
How Do Plasma Centers Work?
The plasma donor's unit of blood is separated into plasma and red blood cells, and the red cells transfused back into the donor. BOTH Albuquerque New Mexico centers have physicians on duty who examine each potential plasma donor.
Who Can Donate Plasma in Albuquerque?
Extensive blood tests, urinalyses and other tests are performed. Donors may not at any time have had syphilis, hepatitis, malaria, anemia, diabetes, heart disease, HIV, or a protein imbalance. Organizations do not accept drug addicts or alcoholics. With alcoholics, it is not so much that their disease harms the plasma products as much as they may cause "disciplinary problems" or have severe reactions to donating. However, donations by alcoholics aren't dangerous to the donor or to the plasma products.
The misconception that plasma donor centers are taking the "lowliest groups of people" isn't true. Anyone is welcome to come and donate at a plasma center. It's really not that bad. Plasma centers are under such tight federal regulations that they can't just accept anybody.
Plasma center clients are mostly college students, the unemployed, people who need something to keep going. Or working people who need extra income. The blood Plasma Donor Center aims for 450 donations a week. The Albuquerque Plasma Corp., which opened on Aug. 5, has 300 donations as its weekly goal. To insure that donors do not donate twice a week at both centers, each center takes anti-fraudulent measures, like marking their fingers with a special stain which shows up under fluorescent light.