BioLife Plasma, Is It Worth It? 

Taylor Hess, Reporter

Biolife Plasma Center is a fairly familiar facility to college students. It is a plasma donation center located around the United States where plasma can be exchanged for money. It is a simple process that only takes about an hour. Many college students are full-time, which means an addition of a job can cause cramped school schedules, increase stress, and poor academic performance, so students turn to donating plasma to fund their books, necessities, and gas among other things. The issue arises when students fall into the gimmick of donating for seemingly large amounts of money without looking into the background of their specific facility, the process, and the side effects.   

If you have never donated plasma before, the process to become eligible is very thorough. At your first appointment, you will answer a long questionnaire regarding past medical history, physical health, recent tattoos and piercings along with many other topics. You will then be taken into a physical exam room. They will go over your current medication and other answers to your questionnaire. Finally, if they deem you fit to donate, you will begin donating. Also, each time you donate, you will have your weight, blood pressure, and finger pricked to test your hemoglobin, and if you do not pass any of these physical markers, you will be turned away for that day. It is important to note that plasma replenishes itself within your body fairly quickly, so it is safe to donate twice over a seven-day period.   

With this plethora of safety procedures to ensure your safety, there also come possibly side effects with donating plasma. Some donors can experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or dehydration. Additionally, they may feel dizzy or lightheaded, sometimes causing fainting. Also, donors may have serious infections or reactions, which is rare, but they can be treated. It is safe to say if you have class or an important obligation after your first donation, you may want to clear your schedule to see how your body reacts.   

I have been donating plasma with Biolife since March of 2022. I donated in Maple Grove, Minnesota where the facility was spacious and clean. The nurses were kind and attentive, addressing my every worry. I donated a total of 15 times until I moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota for college. I decided to return to donating plasma to pay for my extra expenses and textbooks, much like any college student. When I arrived, it was virtually empty at 4:30 in the afternoon. After the man next to me was dealt with, a nurse began to feel for my vein, and I passed out soon after. Later I found out they had “blown” my vein meaning they had completely pierced through it. Eventually, they sat me up and walked me to the front lobby to wait. You may think the story is over, but you would be mistaken. As I sat in the lobby sobbing in pain, the man next to me fainted. The nurses are calling out for 911, and soon, the fire department, police, and an ambulance are waiting outside. They had effectively forgotten about me, so I just left. It is important to note that this is my personal experience and is quite rare. However, there are many risks that go with donating plasma. As aforementioned, many students jump at the opportunity to donate in exchange for money without looking into the process as I did.   

Since plasma donation is an easy way for college students to earn an income, I decided to speak to my peers who have donated at BioLife in Grand Forks. First year student Haley Kackman states, “I have been going to Biolife since March 2022. I began in Fargo and now up here since I have been attending UND. In Grand Forks, the center is a lot different from Fargo. The nurses are nice, but they do not make me feel as connected as I did in Fargo. In Fargo, they would get to know you. It feels like they are slow, and I always have a way longer wait than I should, which is probably because there is not enough help, but it is annoying. I have never had any real problems, but I always feel a little more nervous to go than I would in Fargo.” Another student, McKenzie Amerman simply canceled her appointment after speaking to her friends about their experiences. 

Overall, Biolife Plasma Centers have safety precautions in place but find it difficult to enforce the same protocol at each chain location. Your experience may vary greatly between each facility. To ensure your safety, it is important to do your research when donating plasma or blood. The nature of the procedure seems simple, but regardless, complications can always arise when you are not prepared.   

Taylor Hess is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].