Thursday, December 4, 2014

Q: Can You Donate Plasma More Than Twice a Week?

A: Way back in the dark days of 2009, I devised a brilliant plan. I hated working, so I decided never to do it again. To do that, I came up with various methods, some more deviant than others (like stealing the neighbor's unprotected wifi for my voIP phone - butabing, free internet and phone service!)

But my most "brilliant" plan yet was to donate plasma. I watched the safety video on my first visit. I listened to the dangers of donating too much plasma. For 2 whole years, my plan worked marvellously - I was writing checks my body can cash, and taking more time off of work as a result. This, I thought while a needle was sticking out of my arm, is the life. I'm on my way to a better, work-free future.

What Happens When You Donate Too Much Plasma

But then, I got greedy. I wanted more sweet, sweet plasma donation funds, and going twice a week wasn't going to cut it. CSL plasma painted the nail on my index finger with a special polish that glowed under a blacklight on each visit.

The idea was that if I donated at a different facility, they would use their own special blacklight to see that my index finger glowed brightly.

Each center had their own nail, I casually inquired between the blood pressure test and finger prick one day. CSL painted the index finger, Talecris, the middle, and Biolife, the ring finger. It makes your fingernails glow like this:

Thinking I was super clever (I wasn't) I devised another plan to get around the twice-a-week restriction.

Here's what I did:
  1. Used acetone nail polish remover to get rid of the glow. 
  2. Bought this blacklight off of Amazon to make sure the nail polish was gone.
  3. Used a fake SSN at each plasma center.
  4. Wore long sleeves, and alternated arms on each plasma donation day.
  5. Collected so, so much plasma money.
At first, I donated plasma 4 times a week (2 times a week at BIOlife, and twice at CSL.) Neither plasma center suspected a thing. Great! I thought. What a simple way to double my earnings, and all for practically nothing! Then after 2 weeks, I decided to triple my earnings, by donating at Octopharma (who didn't paint my nails at all.)

I left Sundays as my only day to relax, and stay home from the plasma center.

Health Risks of Frequent Plasma Donation

After 3 months, some serious health problems began. I felt tired all the time, so I took an iron supplement, which seemed to solve it. But I also turned pale, and felt cold and tired all the time Then, in January, I developed a hacking cough, so I drank more OJ, to boost my immune system.

Then, I had the worst shock of my 23 year old life. I was at the library, checking out a book for an advanced economics course, when my entire left side went numb and tingly. I had seen enough emergency! 911 episodes to know I was having a stroke.

I woke up 3 weeks later in the ICU, in a medically induced coma. They told me a blood clot had broken off from my calf, and nearly lodged in my left lung. It nearly gave me me a pulmonary embolism. I was very, very lucky to be alive.

Me in the hospital.

I since did some research, and learned that plasma is much more than just water. It heals cells, hair, and skin tissue, transports red blood cells (RBC's), and contains protiens which keep blood from clotting. By donating plasma 6 days a week, I was draining my body of a very important, healing yellow fluid.

Lesson learned. The FDA guidelines that regulate plasma to twice a week are in place for a reason. For all  my plasma donation, I earned less than $13,600, and ended up with $52,423 worth of hospital bills. So to those wondering if they can donate plasma twice a week the answer is definitely yes - just donate within the guidelines!
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