Greensboro N.C: It’s 6am and a line on Randleman road is slowly starting to grow awaiting to donate their blood plasma at CSL Plasma, a facility that withdraws your plasma for money. $20 to $40 depending on weight on times donated that week, all on a debit card given by the facility. There is also another plasma center in Greensboro on Yancyville st, called Biolife. They are similar in payments though CSL is first come first serve whereas Biolife is by appointment. Their differences are slim compared to their functionality. Take your plasma, give you a small payment, transport the plasma to pharmaceutical companies who in turn use that plasma to create medicines and procedures that help those in need while turning a profit. It’s a win win, right? Well, yes and no depending on how you look at it.
While it is voluntary to donate, the reason behind it is not so charitable when economically you have people donating simply outta of means to eat. Most mornings you will see a lot of people either just getting off night shift or trying to donate before their day truly begins in this daily capitalistic grind. You will also see a lot of homeless on economically fragile people trying to donate simply to survive. I myself have donated at plasma centers as times are tough, sadly though I do not react the best to the process and become extremely nauseated as are one of the many side affects from donating. So I save the donations until I am in desperate need to save on the affect it has. I can attest to those living out of their backpacks standing in line awaiting that donation money just to catch a few meals and some smokes. Myself i donated when money was tight in order to have gas money for work whenever things became slow at hours became laxed. It was out of need, not choice. Donating blood, which is free, is by choice.
When you spend many mornings trying to beat the rush hours before they open, you tend to speak with others standing in line and become friends with those you share donation days with. One of those that stood out was a middle aged lady I’ll call J. J was in her 50s, in the process of gaining disability but having no source of income other than her donation money, lived with her children. She donated for about a year before I met her. Speaking to her, she did so to gain money to pay for her heart medicine so her kids didn’t have to feel burdened economically as she had no health insurance. It baffles that she has to endanger herself donating with heart conditions, and if even more baffling that they have her noted medicines on record and still accepted someone with 2 strokes and a heart attack on their track history, according to J.
There’s a gentleman from New Jersey by the name of Ty, we’ll say. He is a case of a full time working middle aged family man who lives in another town, but comes into Greensboro to donate simply because he needs the extra money. He used to joke with me stating that it’s his second job, which if you look at it as going the max allowed of 2 times a week, 30 minute wait and 45 minute donation time, that is 12 to 15 hours a month, which is a small part time job. Doesn’t sound charitable if you view it as a job and there in structural violence implied need to donate based out of economic shortcomings.
Another case was a mother of one, a daycare teacher in the area we’ll call L. I used to run into her when I donated late in the evenings when not feeling like the mornings. L is another fixture at CSL like J, and countless others. If you speak to her she will state that she needs any extra income despite working full time as a lead teacher, for diapers for her child. The fact that a working mother, or any mother or parent for that matter, has to find a way economically that involves blown out veins, possible blood issues, and countless life changing side affects from donating including permanent track marks on your arms, in order to feed, clothe, or diaper their child is a indication that capitalism is a failure as a system, or that it was designed to fail the poor and disenfranchised.
While you are eventually helping people with the plasma you do donate, you are not thinking that when you’re standing in line with your stomach growling lying to the phlebotomist saying you ate in the last 2 hours when it was closer to 2 days. You are thinking how can I eat today. The false narrative that you donate out of kindness simply is not true as all the blood shortages in pantry and blood banks attest that not giving compensation means less turnout. Those who are donating, saving lives by giving plasma for new medicines, are those who typically cannot afford health care. Those who are struggling day to day to survive.
Those who donate blood and plasma are absolutely amazing people, and I proudly have a blood donation card from AR, MO, NJ, and VA as I proudly donate blood based out of charity. I can not say the same for plasma donations in NC. It is a means for the poor to donate a piece of themselves for scraps. People deserve better economic conditions that prevents some Orwellian processes for capital to live. There is also a homophobic and transphobic policy of banning those who are gay or trans from donating. So our friends who are, and in a dire economic condition can’t even donate.