Florida college kids donate blood, plasma for hundreds of dollars

College kids have been donating blood and plasma for years to make a little extra cash. Add COVID into the mix and that plasma is turning into liquid gold.

University of Central Florida (UCF) student Jason Hamby explained to FOX 35 that plasma donation centers put money directly onto a debit card. Pre-COVID, he would earn about $400 dollars per donation cycle.

After recovering from COVID-19 in June, that payday has gone up to $500 dollars.

"You just sit in a chair and on the phone," Hamby explained. The payday can go even higher, depending on where people donate.

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"If you donate frequently in a one month period, you could earn up to $700," Dr. Toby Simon is the Senior Medical Director at CSL Plasma in Orlando.

He said it's all about supply and demand. The demand for convalescent plasma is way up to treat the sickest coronavirus patients. It’s also used in dozens of clinical trials underway right now, which is what they do, at this plasma donation center.

"Definitely the market is growing. The number of patients dependent on our product is increasing," Dr. Simon explained. 

Heather Duncan manages B-P-L Orlando, another plasma collection facility. Their number one priority is recruiting donors, especially those who have recovered from COVID-19. Her average price is $550 dollars for a first-time donor.

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She said that "there is an extra incentive for convalescent donors and we’re encouraging donors to please come."

In some parts of the country, college students went to extremes to possibly get infected on purpose with COVID-19 just to make money on plasma donations. Brigham Young University-Idaho officials warned students that they will be suspended and even kicked out of school if they intentionally expose themselves or others though.

Jason Hamby said he would never imagine going to those lengths to make money. But for him, donating just makes financial sense, telling FOX 35 that "being a college student, paying for your own food it’s just kind of free money."

One college student in a booming industry. The therapeutic plasma exchange market is projected to be worth nearly $250 million dollars in the next 5 years.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.