They want to suck your blood…uh plasma

A needle suddenly pierces a vein, hurting for a moment, but later being replaced by the pride of being able to save a person’s life. Pulsing through the vein is the single most important liquid in a human’s body, blood. 57% of this necessity to survive is made up of plasma, a pale yellow liquid used to help the body control bleeding and infection. Plasma donation centers are located across the U.S. where donors can go as often as twice a week to save someone’s life and earn a little cash while doing so. In Ames, there’s one plasma donation center called BioLife located on Golden Aspen Drive, near Kmart and Ames Racquet and Fitness Center. “The people that helped me were very nice and made me feel like I was welcomed,” said Megan Murphy, Iowa State student and plasma donor. “They made me feel comfortable.” Although the thought of getting plasma sucked out of one’s vein may be a little frightening, the more one knows about “plasmapheresis”, the process of collecting plasma, the more likely one will be able to overcome one’s fear. “The first time you go you have to have a physical done and fill out a lot of forms,” said James Webb, Ames High English teacher and plasma donor. In order to donate plasma, a person must be between 18 and 65 years old, weigh at least 110 lbs, and be in good physical health. “Donating plasma is different [than donating blood] because you don’t feel as weak since they pump the platelets back into your body which then rehydrates you,” Webb said. After a needle is placed in a vein, the blood is pumped into a spinning device that separates the plasma from the other components in the blood, like red and white blood cells and platelets. The plasma is collected, but the red and white blood cells and platelets are pumped back into the body. “If you can handle getting labwork at the doctors then I think you can handle it [donating plasma],” said Nena Murphy, Megan’s mother and plasma donor. “If you realize that you don’t want to donate and start freaking out, they will stop, even if you’re half way through donating.” Donating plasma is one of the few ways that a person can earn money for themselves and help others at the same time. So when you’re at Starbucks buying a Peppermint Mocha Twist, you can pay with the money you received from saving someone’s life…not a bad day’s work.