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5 Reasons to Donate Plasma…and a Disconcerning Letter


5 Reasons to Donate Plasma

1. Save a life

2. 1 hour to sit back and relax.

{No children to ask for snacks or need a fresh diaper}

3. Childcare availible on site.

4. Get paid

4. Free weekly weigh in and check for anemia and other sundry diseases.

I’ve always wanted to donate blood…it’s one of those things that seems easy enough to do and when someone needs blood, they need blood. So when a couple of friends started talking about donating plasma recently, I decided to check it out. It just so happens BioLife is only about a minute from my parents’ house…so twice I donated plasma. It was easy, it was relaxing, and it was short lived…

May I just say it’s never fun to get a certified letter from your plasma  service center? Especially when you mailman once again “can’t deliver the letter” and you have to wait 24 hours to go pick up your registered letter at the post office. Wondering all the while why the plasma center would send you a letter so important they need proof that you received it…. And then you finally get the letter in hand and open it and it says:

Dear So and So,

Thank you for your recent plasma donation….we are writing to let you know one or more of the tests we performed have been reported and may affect your furture as a plasma donor…We encourage you to return to our plasma as soon as possible so that our medical staff can inform you regarding these test results and their significance….

I was already a bit ill at ease before receiving the letter. You see, when I went to schedule my next appointment on line, every single date between now and Armageddon was blocked off. Being the quick witted and clever woman that I am, I wondered if there was a problem…as opposed to, say, a sudden urge by everyone in the Pacific Northwest to donate blood…every hour of every day forever.

Within a week, the letter arrived.

Off to the plasma center I went, letter in hand. When I showed it to the woman at the front desk, she read it and acted like she’d never seen one before. She had to talk to so and so who had to talk to so and so,  who had to talk to so and so before I finally, finally got back to see someone from the “medical staff”.

I was told, essentially, that I have “atypical antibodies” in my blood. My blood (or plasma) is not safe to donate. The woman from the medical staff said it was most likely pregnancy/birth related. A mix of blood…my midwife/naturopath said, given my blood type, that’s impossible. Then it dawned on me: malaria. It must be from the malaria I had back in 1994 and 1995….

At any rate, my name is now on a national registry. I cannot donate blood or plasma anywhere. Ever.

Too bad…I was just getting into the swing of things…

{But you can probably donate plasma…go check out’s quick, easy and may save a life some day}



  1. Elizabeth

    Weird. Sorry for the disappointing end. How would malaria cause a permanent effect on your blood like that? Interesting, especially considering that I’ve had malaria.

  2. Crystal in Lynden

    Bought a bike for my son one Christmas on what I call “blood money.” It took a couple months but I was very thankful for Bio Life.

  3. Anneke

    I went there myself a few weeks ago to try to help others and make a little bit of money on the side. They took me to the back to check out my veins after the initial paper work etc. They checked both of my arms and decided my veins are not big enough to stick these thick needles in. It would be torture they said. For a different reason I’m not able to donate plasma. You might save yourself a trip down there and check your veins.

  4. Suze

    I am so sorry this experience was not the best for you. If it helps there are various reasons why I cannot donate blood either.
    Thank you though for being brave enough to share the story and help remind us that this is a necessary thing.

  5. liz

    I myself once tried to donate blood ahead of time …for myself! They couldn’t even get a vein. Monday I had a procedure and it took 4 RN and finally the anesthesia DR to put in a 22g in my wrist. I wish I could donate, but it is virtually impossible for me. I feel bad as I for medical reasons have reaped the kindness of those who have donated

  6. Kate

    Thank you for giving and for encouraging others to give. My little boy often needs tranfusions, platelets, and other blood products, and every time he receives them we offer up a silent prayer for blessing for the anonymous donor. A child who needs blood is a heartbreaking sight – pale, weak, unable to even sit up. Before the transfusion is even complete we will see color returning to his face and see him start talking, sitting, and playing. THANK YOU donors!!!

  7. Delia

    I think of it as going to the plasma spa, since it’s essentially painless & I enjoy an hour where I’m paid to lay back & read! I also like the regular iron/protien checks, but I’ve been put on my 2nd round of not being to donate for 10 days due to low protien. Sorry to hear that your days at the plasma spa are over!

  8. Karla in Mn

    My husband, myself, and my son cannot ever donate blood. You see…we lived in Italy from 1992-1995, and we MIGHT be carriers of Mad Cow Disease!

  9. Emily

    My husband works for a blood bank. He says once a woman has had 4 or so pregnancies, her blood is no good for donation any more. It has something complex to do with your immune system. I can’t think of the right words right now. Nice of them to tell you that AFTER you donated, though.

  10. Kylie

    Hmmmm…here you don’t get paid, there is no childcare, no weigh ins and it doesn’t take an hour!! I used to donate but now I can’t because of meds I’m on.

  11. Renee

    Jennifer, I included the quotation marks because they refer to them rather generically as medical staff and you never quite know if you are talking to a phlebotomist, nurse, doctor, etc.

  12. Jo

    I cannot donate blood nor can my husband, for being overseas (mil/europe) and (me)because my mom had hep A when she was pregnant with me. I havent ever had it, but I guess I test positive for the antibody? She got it from bad food pregnant with me, and almost died and now she cannot donate. Even though I havent “had” hep A I am unable to donate. I was sad about that, it is such a simple way to help others. I have great veins and dont mind being stuck.

  13. Robyn

    Not malaria, which is not detected by antibodies. (You diagnose it by looking for the parasite in red blood cells. Since plasma has no red cells in it, no malaria). It was probably a positive antibody screen, as Kelly’s link refers to. This is not harmful to you in any way… unless you need a blood transfusion yourself. Then, the blood bank would have to find a unit of blood that was negative for the antibody/ies in your plasma, so that you didn’t have a transfusion reaction.
    Depending on which antibody/ies they found, this is something you might mention if you’re scheduling elective surgery. For a few types of antibody, you might even consider carrying a note in your wallet or making sure your husband knows about it, if you were to need an emergency transfusion.
    One more thing: If you become pregnant again, you should mention this to your doctor/midwife at the first visit, as some of these antibodies can, in rare cases, harm the growing fetus.

  14. Alex

    I donated plasma when I was in college. It was a great way to supplement my on-campus job, and paid for gas money, vitamins, and more than the basic $15 a week in groceries. It’s a great way to make a difference in someone’s life!
    Thanks for the blog! It helps me get a taste of home (the US) during my year here in China.

  15. Zach

    I got diagnosed with the antibody, too. No more donating. However, I also was diagnosed with MS about 3 years earlier; over 30 leisons found, some very big. Since MS is an attack of the immune system on nervous tissue and the atypical antibody attacks red blood cells it does pose the question as to whether there is a link or do I just have really sucky luck and should avoid Vegas??

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I did two donations. After the second one, the computer system would not allow me to book a third appointment. The letter came a week or so later.

  16. Lisa

    I’ve been donating since May and now i went to make appointment and was told i need to call the bio life center said i would receive a certified letter and if i had any questions to feel free to call them how after 8 months they are now just trying to send me a letter

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