Blood for oil
May 5, 2006 5:49 PM   Subscribe

"Blood for oil" seems to be the new cry on campus (or at least "Plasma for gas").
posted by 445supermag (30 comments total)
How are you 'donating' something if you get paid for it?

We have one of these vampiric places here in town and I've always found the thing super creepy, especially the low prices they pay.

Also, what is the difference between donating 'blood' and donating 'plasma'? The red cross always wants donated blood, these places always want to buy 'plasma'? Are they actually asking for the same thing, or what?
posted by delmoi at 5:53 PM on May 5, 2006

Plasma donations and blood donations are different.
In a whole blood donation, they take the whole product.
In plasma, they take the whole blood, strip out the plasma, and give you back the leftovers(red/white blood cells and platelets).
posted by madajb at 6:15 PM on May 5, 2006

"Donating blood" usually implies donating whole blood. They drain out a unit, give you juice and cookies and off you go, unbale to donate again for six weeks or so.
Donating plasma, or other blood components, involves removing certain blood components and returning the rest to you. these partial donations can be made more frequently.
(You still get the juice and cookies...)
posted by Dr.Strasbimus at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2006

A few times I donated blood. Then the blood bank started calling me at frequencies up to twice a day trying to get me to donate blood. So now I don't give blood anymore. I still get a call every other week or so (my phone ignores them).
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:21 PM on May 5, 2006

Sounds like you may have a rare blood type, Tim, perhaps you should drop some pints every few months for the halibut.
posted by undule at 6:25 PM on May 5, 2006

Shit how can you sell or buy blood, we're fucked americans ar insane

Those kind of things should be donated never selled
posted by zouhair at 6:46 PM on May 5, 2006

I donated plasma in my dark college days. They punch your vein like with regular blood donation, but your blood flows into a reservoir on a machine. When you've given about a pint, the machine spins out the plasma. You can see the clear fluid dripping into a separate bag. Then the machine pumps what's left of your blood back into you. Then the process happens again. IIRC, this happens 5-6 times, until they get a specific amount of plasma. Then you get a bag of saline. The process takes much longer than a full blood donation... upwards of an hour. This was the early nineties and you could get between $15 and $30 per donation (it was on some sort of a scale, the more frequently you donated, the more you got paid). And my school paper would often run a coupon that would give you an extra $5. Good times.
posted by kimdog at 6:51 PM on May 5, 2006

Powers that Be, feel free to move this to the green, but...

Here's a weirdness, since we're talking about giving blood: Mumble years ago, I was a pheresis donor, but my body couldn't seem to handle it well -- seeming hypothermia (in the South, in high summer) and malaise for up to to 36 hrs after each session. And after maybe my third or fourth pheresis donation, the ARC informed me I was "excused" from donation of any kind, permanently, and wouldn't say why. I've since tried to find out, and all they'll tell me is I'm excused for life. WTF?
posted by pax digita at 6:52 PM on May 5, 2006

The saline getting put back in is a real treat. You can feel the cold fluid making its way through your veins, up your arm and on its way to the rest of your body. I almost passed out the first time.
posted by sharksandwich at 6:59 PM on May 5, 2006

I've one of the regular types, A Negative.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:08 PM on May 5, 2006

Heh, the plasma for gas bit is pretty clever.


Can't give money in return for blood and blood products in Canada.

However, researchers here can purchase frozen primary human cells (lymphocytes and purified immune populations, mostly) for research purposes (from Canadian companies).

(It's a little more complicated, researchers - in some instances and after several hoops - may reimburse volunteers for being enrolled on a study where blood/tissue are collected from the volunteer; but reselling those tissues, I believe, is verboten.)

Where do these companies acquire their products? American blood banks who are allowed to pay for said blood products and as such these companies are allowed to charge researchers money for these cells.
posted by porpoise at 7:31 PM on May 5, 2006

pax digita: And after maybe my third or fourth pheresis donation, the ARC informed me I was "excused" from donation of any kind, permanently, and wouldn't say why. I've since tried to find out, and all they'll tell me is I'm excused for life. WTF?

Although I'm flattered to be asked, you should really clear that particular mystery up with a doctor.
Conditions that permanently disqualify a person from donating blood include hepatitis B or C, heart disease, certain types of cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, and any type of cancer that has recurred after treatment or that has ever been treated with chemotherapy drugs), severe asthma, bleeding disorders, possible exposure to prion diseases (such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (see Prion Diseases: Introduction), AIDS, and possible exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) due to high-risk behaviors (see Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection). - Source: Donation Process, Merck Manual Home Edition
You pretty much not only need to know which one of thsoe conditions (if any) you have, but really specifically you'll want to know which one.
posted by illovich at 7:32 PM on May 5, 2006

Bah, I was too busy trying to be a clever dick that I ended up not really making sense. But that's not important right now. You should really see a doctor.
posted by illovich at 7:34 PM on May 5, 2006

"so, can we have your liver, then?"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:46 PM on May 5, 2006

Okay, so the stuff they take out can't be used for blood tranfusions or anything, then:

What the fuck do they do with it?
posted by delmoi at 7:48 PM on May 5, 2006

Platelets go to people undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.
I think the use of the various components is covered in the Wikipedia link on apheresis...
FWIW our local Blood Bank is all volunteer - no payment other than the cookies...
posted by Dr.Strasbimus at 8:01 PM on May 5, 2006

Plasmapheresis is rough stuff, even if it doesn't look like it. The guy who works in our lab used to work in a mobile collections vehicle in the '80s, when they'd just roll the mobile into the projects and line the people up. Many of the people who came regularly always looked a little like marasmus. Whether this was because the donor wasn't eating well enough to replace their serum protein at the rate the lab was taking it, or if they had other problems, nobody knew.

If you're going to do it with any regularity, be prepared for weakness, increased susceptibility to infection, and so on. Not really worth it for what they give. If this kind of thing is your speed, there are all kinds of things you can do that pay much better. Check your local alternative weekly.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:23 PM on May 5, 2006

You pretty much not only need to know which one of thsoe conditions (if any) you have, but really specifically you'll want to know which one.

Well, just living in England for a certain length of time qualifies you for the "possible exposure to prion diseases".
posted by 445supermag at 8:24 PM on May 5, 2006

Shit how can you sell or buy blood, we're fucked americans ar insane

Those kind of things should be donated never selled
posted by zouhair at 6:46 PM PST on May 5 [!

Then wait till you find out about DNA being patented and the cost on parts from the dead. ($1400 a square inch for skin)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:33 PM on May 5, 2006

Shit how can you sell or buy blood, we're fucked americans ar insane

Those kind of things should be donated never selled

If only those filthy capitalist Yankees had hands as clean as those of the French!

"More than half the estimated 12 million liters of plasma used in medicines worldwide comes from the United States."

"Insane," indeed. And you're totally fucked!
posted by Kwantsar at 9:43 PM on May 5, 2006

This seems primarily sensationalist? Why not "people selling sperm for gas money"? Gas prices have gone up and supply and demand is the root cause. Why don't these people buy bikes instead of donating blood? If a bike is infeasable, why did we design communities that require cars? In all honesty, we probably only have ourselves to blame. Europe gets by fine on $6/gallon gas.
posted by jhscott at 10:36 PM on May 5, 2006

i guess i'm in the vocal minority that thinks this is a really good idea. Paying for gas with bits of your life's blood? Maybe people will begin to realize how valuable oil and gasoline really are.

That said, while i've given blood many times, i've never given plasma, i imagine that the cold fluid snakeing back into you would be really creepy.
posted by quin at 10:47 PM on May 5, 2006

Can I get cash for deeding my body to a pharmaceutical company/research institute/mad scientist?
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:14 PM on May 5, 2006

I used to work at a plasma collection agency back in the early nineties. It was a pretty crazy place, with a clientelle mostly of the underclass, bikers, and university students like me. I was offered the job on my second time selling. I had a needle in my arm during the interview. Every single client was very hard up for cash, which kind of gets to you after a while. We'd mark fingers with ultraviolet dye to catch people from going to our competitors to sell more than twice a week, but we'd often catch people who'd tried to scrub it off. There were lots of shouting matches when we had to turn people down.

What the fuck do they do with it?

Make medicines and medical products. Kwantsar's first link discusses the business. The same site goes into products in more detail here.

When I was working there back in the early nineties, a liter of plasma supposedly sold for about $1000. But to put in perspective, we used disposable kits to draw the blood, spin out the plasma and pump the rest back in, and these cost a few hundred dollars each. Add the insurance bills and you can see the profit margins weren't so astronomical.

These kits meant you were never seperated from the blood products that you'd be getting back, which made it a lot safer. It used to be that the drawn blood was taken to a lab room to be run through the centrifuge, and a mix-up in the lab could cost you your life. They did their best to make things idiot-proof. Still, our most popular phlebotomist, the always accurate and gentle Mark, for whom clients would sometimes wait half an hour or so, would often be tripping on the job.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:28 PM on May 5, 2006

I was told I could never donate blood again after I had Lymes disease about 10 years ago.
posted by fshgrl at 1:56 AM on May 6, 2006


Why do you gave me the example about the french, I'm not french and don't give a damn about them or America either

But my point is always the same : Selling part of bodies should be prohibited!! If not a poor for saving his family from starving could kill himself and sell his organs to some rich assholes
posted by zouhair at 5:19 AM on May 6, 2006

I see selling blood as far better than not donating blood at all. Blood is valuable and can save lives, if not enough people are donating I see paying people for blood as the best alternative. It is better than people dying for lack of blood because of prissiness masquerading as morality.

Blood sold is governed by the same rules as donating blood so it is, while not exactly harmless, very safe.

Organs are a different story but I think selling futures on organ donation (some money now for a guarantee of an organ donation when ones death is reached) would increase the amount of organs available without doing any harm to the people involved.
posted by I Foody at 6:58 AM on May 6, 2006

zouhair: Kwantsar's point was made fairly explicit in his links, which you obviously didn't read:
France's haemophiliacs felt that they were safe from the risk of getting Aids from blood transfusions, because France does not allow payment for blood donation, so filthy junkies likely to have Aids can't sell their blood in desperation. However, thousands of them got it anyway because the French government deliberately gave them contaminated blood that had been donated free.

Therefore refusing to pay for blood donation does not remove the risk of receiving diseased blood donations.

I'm also going to assume that you are a regular (free) blood donor and your organs will be donated after your death.
posted by jacalata at 7:26 AM on May 6, 2006

Um, why is this weird or bad or insane or fucked or whatever?

It's not like selling your kidney, you know: your body can just regenerate the plasma.

So people want plasma. You've got some plasma. They want it so desperately that they're willing to pay for it. You're clever so you withhold it until they pay for it. Sounds like a deal to me!

How is selling your attention and time—a way more precious and personal resource—more ethical than selling random bits of your bodily fluids?
posted by Firas at 11:06 AM on May 6, 2006

Interesting this post is up today, as it appears Hemosol spiked on Friday in anticipation of good news.

Hemosol was on the very cutting edge of blood processiing and blood substitute manufacturing. And then went bankrupt at the last minute.

If they can ressurect the company, it'd be a helluva thing: I forget what their product's problem was, but if it weren't for that one glitch, it was shaping up to be a revolutionary lifesaver.

Disclaimer: I have stock in the company. I was an unfortunate early investor.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on May 6, 2006

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