Facing rising costs for everyday needs due to inflation, more people in the Las Vegas Valley are turning to plasma donation to put some extra cash in their pocket while helping others.
“Year to date, we are seeing an increase overall across our network of centers,” Vlasta Hakes, senior director of corporate affairs at Grifols Biomat USA, said. “We’ve seen about a 20 percent increase.”
That was visible Wednesday at Grifols donation center on Tropicana Avenue Wednesday as rows of people sat patiently as they donated their plasma.
Plasma is the liquid component of blood that contains proteins and antibodies that help people recover from illnesses. Pharmaceutical companies use plasma to make medicine for those with severe and chronic illnesses.
“What we’re doing is we’re collecting plasma from healthy individuals and taking their antibodies,” Hakes said. “And putting those antibodies into a medicine to treat people with primary immune deficiency diseases.”
Mark Conoly, who has been donating his plasma for two years, understands the importance of plasma donations. Before donating, Conoly said, he was afraid of needles, but he realized that the benefits of donating outweighed his fears.
“I donate because I know the impact that they make,” he said. “My mom has an autoimmune disease and the the plasma that’s been (given) helps her also.”
The compensation from donating also allows Conoly to “throw an extra dollar” at other expenses in his life, he said. He uses the money in all facets of his finances.
“It’s a mix between, like, gas and just going out and being a family and everything and being able to do things,” Conoly said, explaining how the donation compensation helps ease the squeeze on his expenses. “Before, it was, you know, everything rent, gas, car payment, anything.”
Grifols operates four locations across the valley, and a donor can earn up to $100 for the first donation and $800 in the first month— $40 on average for each regular donation. Compensation is provided through a Grifols Visa debit card.
Plasma is made mostly of water so it regenerates quickly, allowing for individuals to donate plasma multiple times a week.
Giomar Santos has been donating his plasma twice a week, every week, since March. Money is tight, and donating plasma helps, he said.
“Most of the time my check goes to bills … I would probably have barely any money to spend on myself,” before he started donating, Santos said. “I checked online about what the best way to get money and I saw this place.”
Many others are following the same path and helping others along the way.
“Donating plasma is a win-win,” Hakes said. “Somebody comes in to donate, they know they’re helping save lives. At the same time, they’re really able to help themselves out with with the compensation.”