Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Suspicions About Donating Plasma - Is it a Scam?

Donating plasma is something that not everyone is familiar with. Sure, we've all seen blood drives and know what that looks like, but what is donating plasma? Is there a stigma associated with it? Is it dirty? Is it safe? Is it private? 

These are questions that I had about plasma donations before I ever became involved with SeraCare Life Sciences, helping the company find participants who want to make a difference by becoming a plasma donor.

Before I understood anything about the industry, donating plasma for money sounded a little shady. If I were to come across an advertisement that offered $400 or more per plasma donation I would probably raise an eyebrow and question the legitimacy of it. I would probably say to myself, "is this a scam?" and most likely, I'd ignore it and move on. And if you've been diagnosed with a serious medical condition (that has led to expensive medical bills) and you hear that you can receive financial compensation for donating plasma, it might seem too good to be true. Why would anyone pay for a person with an autoimmune disorder or an infection to donate plasma? Aren't plasma donations only for healthy people?

Well, this is why I'd like to inform you on why there are companies out there offering compensation for plasma donations and how you can be sure that an opportunity is legitimate.

blood plasma

Why are companies collecting plasma? 

Researchers are looking for ways to improve medical testing, diagnostic tools, and therapeutic treatments. Don't you want a test that will detect infectious Lyme disease quickly and accurately? Wouldn't it be great if there were a way to easily pinpoint which autoimmune disorder you have with a simple blood test? These hopes for medical technology are real, and the people working hard to bring them to reality need patients who are already known to be positive or have a known diagnosis, to donate plasma, blood, serum, and other specimens so that they can bring medical research goals to life.

What are companies looking for?

To qualify for a plasma donation - you must test positive for the antibodies of your condition. In other words, if you have been diagnosed with Lupus, you must test positive for Lupus-associated antibodies like ANA, JO-1, SCL-70, Cardiolipin, SSA, SSB, dsDNA, etc. Or if you have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, you must test positive for RF (Rheumatoid Factor).  These antibodies can be found in your blood work. 

You can ask your physician or health care provider whether or not you have positive results for your condition. 

So, why do some places collect plasma from healthy people, but others are looking for people with medical conditions?

People who are healthy can donate plasma at practically at any center (assuming they have the right iron levels, do not have an autoimmune disorder, and do not test positive for certain conditions). These types of plasma donations are needed for transfusions and other life-saving therapies that require completely healthy plasma. The plasma from healthy donors can be injected or transfused into another person - that is why it is so crucial for a donor to be healthy for these types of plasma donations.

But what about people with medical conditions? 

People who have an infectious illness like Lyme disease or an autoimmune disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis, can donate plasma at specialized, FDA licensed centers that have the approval to collect from donors for research purposes only. This means that the plasma from donors with medical conditions is being used for lab testing, developing better medical tools, and creating advanced treatments. The plasma is not being injected into another person. It is strictly being used for research & development to improve medical technologies - which is why it can be lawfully collected from someone with a medical condition. 


How can I know that a company is legitimate and that my privacy will be protected?

Ask the company you are thinking of working with if they use FDA approved plasma centers. Make sure that you are going to a facility that has a physician on-site who will be able to assess you prior to donating to ensure that it is safe for you to donate. 

SeraCare Life Sciences is a biotech corporation dedicated to improving patient healthcare. This company works hard to ensure patient safety and privacy by working with plasma centers that use FDA approved protocols and HIPAA compliant procedures. This means that by participating as a plasma donor for SeraCare, you will be in very good hands and your personal health information will remain strictly confidential.

Why is more money being offered for compensation than a healthy plasma donation center? 

Maybe the red flag isn't the safety and privacy to you - maybe it's questioning why $400 or more is being offered for compensation, while most healthy plasma centers offer $20-60. You are probably thinking to yourself -- Ok, so what's the catch?

But the truth is, there isn't a catch. The reason that donors with medical conditions are offered more for plasma donations is so that they are compensated fairly for their time, effort, donation, and sometimes their travel as well. Since not every state has a specialized, FDA approved plasma center that can take donations from people with autoimmune disorders or infectious illnesses, some donors have to travel. 

But perhaps the highest form of incentive, to me, is knowing that you are helping others who are suffering with the same medical condition. You are making an effort to donate plasma - which ultimately makes a difference in other patients' lives. Eventually, your contributions could help make the right tests that will diagnose a Lyme disease patient quickly, or maybe your plasma will be useful in creating a new cutting-edge Lupus treatment. I think it's a shame that there are scams out there that make us question when we hear about a good thing like this and wonder about its validity. 

I hope that more people will recognize this as an invaluable opportunity to take a strong stance against their medical condition and contribute to critical medical research, while making a little extra income at the same time. It's truly a wonderful way to improve life - both yours and the lives of others. 

Learn how you can get involved and help SeraCare improve patient healthcare: 

1 comment:

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