When I was in high school, an enterprising friend regularly gave blood to earn some extra cash (he also had a part-time job, so this wasn’t his only strategy). The economy in 1974 was in a bad recession, but even so, my buddy remarked that the paid blood donors were skewed heavily towards chronic alcoholics (the popular image of the homeless back then, although his stereotype may have been accurate).
I remarked earlier that rising levels of paid blood donations would be a proxy for economic stress. Although this story (hat tip reader Warren) is only one sighting, it seems to confirm the thesis.
From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:
Like most families, James Jubinville and his wife are pinching pennies in these tough economic times. A road construction worker and father of two, Jubinville is laid off each winter but is especially feeling strapped this year. To help make ends meet, he is trying to refinance his mortgage.
He also is earning cash by giving plasma…
Jubinville earns at least $50 a week giving plasma, driving twice a week from Huntington. People can donate every 48 hours but only twice per week at the area’s only for-profit plasma donation center. Donors must be at least 18 years old. They are given $20 for the first donation of the week and usually $30 for the second one.
“Sometimes they run specials,” he said. For example, last month, each second donation of the week went up by $10, so by Week 3, Jubinville made $50 for the second donation, or $70 for the week…
The exact numbers of donors is not released by the company, Petty said, but on Tuesday, all 66 recliners at the Coldwater Road site were full….
Jubinville has been giving plasma at BioLife year-round for 1 1/2 years and said, “I used to be able to walk in and maybe have to wait a little while, and now I have to make an appointment. It’s extremely busy.”
Plasma is the liquid, yellow portion of blood. It makes up nearly 60 percent of blood and consists of 90 percent water and 10 percent protein molecules and other factors needed for blood clotting, for the immune system and for other processes…..
[P]lasma collected by for-profit centers is used for research and some medical therapies, whereas, “Here at the Red Cross plasma goes directly to hospital patients in need, most often to burn victims, shock victims or patients admitted for a trauma,”…
[E]very plasma collection is tested for a host of diseases, then frozen and kept in regional distribution centers for at least six months to ensure it is safe before usage…
For people like Jubinville, the money helps buy groceries and salt for the water softener, he said, noting an added bonus is, “It’s not taxed. It’s considered a donation.”
The article also notes that only 5% of eligible donors give blood, suggesting that the US is not at risk of a recession-induced donor oversupply.