Jerry Kiplinger rides his bicycle from Midwest City to Oklahoma City twice a week to sell his plasma. The extra $50 per week helps him eat well enough to keep selling it.
Kiplinger, 50, is unemployed. He can’t find the day labor he once did, and he’s lost about 20 pounds since January. The more than six-hour round trip he makes two times a week is starting to take a toll on his health, he said. He began selling his plasma more than a year ago when it started getting more difficult for him to find jobs. "It’s only painful when they put the red blood back into your body,” Kiplinger said. "It keeps food on my table, and people need the plasma. So it’s worth it as long as the price doesn’t go down.” Noble resident Steve Walker, 59, isn’t needle-shy, either. He sells plasma twice a week in Norman. "I’m hunting for a job right now,” Walker said. "I sell my plasma and use the extra money to pay a few bills here and there.” Walker said he is paid about $20 a visit and uses it to pay for gasoline that runs the generator powering his home. Some days he waits up to three hours to be seen. Christine Kuhinka, manager of corporate communications for CSL Behring, said industry-wide more people are selling plasma. The company runs CSL and ZLB Plasma centers in Oklahoma. U.S. plasma centers reported 12.5 million collections in 2006. About 18.5 million were made last year, according to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. The group sets standards for collecting and manufacturing plasma products internationally. While many companies have cut back their expenses to adjust to the leaner economy, CSL hasn’t.
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• Plasma is collected through whole-blood donation. A needle is placed in the arm, and the blood is removed. Plasma and other components are then separated with a machine, and red blood cells are returned to the body.
• It usually takes 1 to 2 hours.
• Plasma and products manufactured from it are frequently given to patients whose livers do not work, burn victims and people with severe bacterial infections in their blood.
• Federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines allow individuals to donate two times in a seven-day period with a minimum of two days between donations.
• Plasma can be donated at more than 400 government licensed and certified donation centers across the U.S., Europe and Canada. SOURCE: Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration