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Am I Eligible for Plasma Donation?

By Angela Farrer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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To be eligible for plasma donation, you need to meet a number of criteria as well as follow some specific rules in order to keep your eligibility. The plasma donation process involves careful screening of each new potential donor in order to minimize the possibility of disease transmission. Good candidates for donating plasma are individuals in general good health with no histories of illegal drug use or other high-risk behavior often associated with contracting conditions such as hepatitis or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Most plasma donation banks have minimum requirements for donor age and body weight as well.

When first beginning the donation process, you will probably need to provide at least one form of government-issued photo identification, such as a passport. Some commercial plasma donation centers may also require proof of a local address; a recent piece of mail showing your name is often all that is required. Plasma donors usually need to be between the ages of 18 and 65 and live within 125 miles (about 201 kilometers) of their local donation bank.

Testing before donating plasma typically involves a basic physical exam and a series of questions regarding your current health. A donation center staff member will usually record your weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Sometimes a finger-prick blood test will also be performed to ensure you do not have anemia, since too little iron in the blood can often present a health risk when attempting to donate plasma. Some plasma bank examiners may also ask about any visible scars you may have from past surgery or healed injuries.

Potential donors are usually required to weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (about 50 kg) to be eligible. If you have gotten a recent tattoo or piercing on any part of the body, you may have to wait up to one year before becoming eligible as a plasma donor. During the eligibility screening, you may sometimes be required to list every piercing you have ever received, even if some are healed over.

Donors with low blood pressure are often not eligible to donate plasma until their tested blood pressure increases to a minimum level. Side effects such as marked dizziness and fainting can sometimes happen just after someone with low blood pressure donates plasma. If you have high blood pressure and are taking medication to control it, you may also have to wait a few weeks after stopping the medication before donating plasma.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002594 — On Jan 01, 2020

I have been turned down from the Red Cross because I lived in Italy in the 1990's. Can I still donate plasma?

By anon345880 — On Aug 23, 2013

I tried to donate yesterday and I have been deferred for at least two weeks due to a bruise on my left arm from dropping a ladder on it.

I have been searching for an answer to this policy for hours and cannot find an answer and the facility will only say its for my own safety. I do have two arms that can be used for collection, so why they couldn't do it from the other arm is beyond me.

I have had similar bruises in the past and gone in for blood donations as well as blood work and have never been told to wait until the bruise heals.

If anyone could answer this, I would greatly appreciate it as I am very confused right now and very disappointed. I was really hoping to donate so I could be one more person helping people who need it, as I obviously don't need it for myself.

By anon308972 — On Dec 14, 2012

Does insulin use affect the plasma? I was told I couldn't donate if I was using insulin. My blood sugars are under control and am wondering why in the U.S. this would be an issue? A friend of mine donates without telling them she is on insulin and I have considered it because I really need the money, but don't want to do it if it will hurt anyone.

By Monika — On Jan 28, 2012

Some of the requirements for plasma donation are kind of interesting. Most of them make sense though. Obviously if you're going to donate a bodily fluid, you should be healthy and not have any communicable diseases.

However, the weight thing doesn't really make sense to me. When I was 18-20, I weighed under 110 pounds and I was totally healthy! But I wouldn't have been able to donate plasma if I had wanted to because of some silly weight restriction. Ridiculous!

By indemnifyme — On Jan 28, 2012

@SZapper - I can see why you would feel that way. I mean, why donate plasma if you don't really need the money and you think the experience would be really upsetting?

However, I can totally see why some people donate plasma (for money or for free). First of all, let's forget about compensation for a minute. If you donate plasma you're helping someone, somewhere. A lot of people might find that very worthwhile, and the cash would be just a bonus.

But also, a lot of people probably don't have an easy way to make an extra $25 a week. You can make money on the Internet or maybe by picking up a few extra hours at your job. But what if that's not an option? If you're really desperate, I think plasma donation is an excellent option.

By SZapper — On Jan 27, 2012

I was considering Biolife plasma donation, but after reading the comments attached to this article, I don't think I can do it. The idea of sitting there with a needle in my arm for over an hour sounds horrible! I'm actually getting a little nauseas just thinking about it!

Plus, I don't think the money you can make is really worth it. Once you take into account the travel time, it doesn't really sound worth it to only make $25! Not to mention the pain and suffering of sitting there with a needle in your arm!

There are plenty of other ways to generate an extra $25 a week, so I think I'm going to pass on plasma donation.

By turquoise — On Jan 26, 2012

@burcinc, @anamur-- "Healthy" for plasma donation means that you are generally well. It doesn't mean that you can't have any chronic illnesses but the illnesses do need to be under treatment and control.

I would say that two of the major reasons why some people are ineligible is because of medications and the side effects that blood donation would have on the individual.

For example, people regularly using blood-thinners are not allowed blood plasma donation because their blood will not clot appropriately. Also, drugs like Accutane for acne and Avodart for prostate have waiting periods before plasma can be given.

By LisaLou — On Jan 26, 2012

Just a word of caution here on donating plasma. If you are someone who is afraid of needles or gets a little squeamish thinking about it, donating plasma might not be for you.

When I read through the plasma donation risks, I thought it sounded like something I would tolerate without any problems. I only went one time, and didn't handle the procedure very well.

First of all I just about passed out when I saw the size of the needle, but I went ahead with it any way. Afterwards, I felt very dizzy and light headed, and had to rest for awhile before they would let me leave.

Needless to say, that was the first and last time I made a plasma donation.

By bagley79 — On Jan 25, 2012

@John57 - My understanding is you can donate plasma two times every 7 days. I have donated plasma before, but never went this often. I felt confident knowing it was a safe procedure.

When I donated on a fairly regular basis, it was not uncommon to see a lot of the same faces. I think some people donate plasma on a regular basis because it is a way to get some extra money.

I think it depends on the different plasma donation locations how you get paid, but you usually get paid up front.

Some locations will pay you cash and others will add the money to a debit card. If you donate once a week, you can make around $100 a month.

I was usually there from 60-90 minutes each time, so made sure and had something to read so the time went by faster.

By John57 — On Jan 25, 2012

How often can someone give a blood plasma donation? I have donated blood before, and know you have to wait quite awhile between donation times.

It sounds like the age and weight requirements are pretty similar. The first time I heard about this was from a co-worker of mine who is a single parent.

She said she would donate her plasma for some extra money for the kids. It sounded like she did this more often than once every few months.

I wondered if this was safe and how often it could be done. It makes sense that you can't donate plasma when you are pregnant, but it sounds like it is something where many people would meet the eligibility requirements.

By andee — On Jan 24, 2012

As far as I know, most people who are in good health and don't have recent tattoos meet the plasma donation requirements.

This is something I have done on a regular basis. When I was a college student I was very poor, and the money I received when I donated plasma helped me out quite a bit.

Donating plasma not only helped me out financially, but I also knew that I was helping others out as well. The plasma that is donated is used to save lives, so it can be a win-win situation for everyone.

There were several college aged students at the center where I went, but I also saw people of all ages there. Once I knew how it all worked, I could take my laptop or homework with me and study during the time it took to process the plasma donation.

By serenesurface — On Jan 24, 2012

@burcinc-- It depends on which organization you'll be donating to and different countries also have different rules about this.

In the US, American Red Cross takes blood plasma donations from diabetics if their diabetes is "under control." I'm not quite sure what that means but I'm guessing that they will want to know your 3-month blood sugar levels and the medications you are on. So you won't really know if you're qualified until you apply. Although, I think that you will probably be accepted.

The same is true for blood donations. Interestingly, the US is a bit more relaxed about this than other countries. In the UK, for example, plasma donations are only accepted from diabetics who are not on insulin. Some insulin that diabetics use comes from animal sources, so there is a risk of mad cow disease in those cases. American Red Cross has not specified about this on their site. But animal sourced insulin might not be as common here.

By burcinc — On Jan 23, 2012

Are diabetics allowed to donate plasma?

At my college, some students do plasma donation for money. I'm actually against that but I would like to donate plasma for free.

In my biology class last week, we learned about plasma and how scientists are doing experiments with plasma to treat certain diseases. I think plasma research could help us find cures for many genetic disorders. I also know that some cancers can be treated with plasma transfusion.

This is why I want to donate plasma. But I have no idea if I will be rejected because I'm a diabetic. Does anyone know?

By Kat919 — On Jan 23, 2012

You should also know that you can't donate plasma while you're pregnant. BioLife requires that you wait six months after delivery in order to donate; I'm not sure if everywhere has the same rule.

I know that the Red Cross requires only six weeks after pregnancy before you're allowed to donate whole blood, but I don't think that's a good idea. You will likely still be anemic, for one thing. And if you are breastfeeding, you and your baby will still be placing a lot of demands on your system.

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