Kalamazoo, Mich.—Octapharma Plasma, Biomat USA and CSL Plasma donation are
plasma donation centers servicing the Kalamazoo area. Biomat USA is located 167 E Kalamazoo
Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo. Where many go to donate plasma in order to make fast cash.
Donation centers create specials based on the amount a person donates along with how
often. With Kalamazoo poverty rate of 32.7 percent according US consensus many people turn to
plasma donations for quick income. For some this donation can make the difference between
making a bill, have food to eat or the some extra money during the holidays.

CPL Plasma is life-saving liquid that dwells in your blood, plasma is a potent weapon
that serves a number of vital functions in bleeding and infection control.
Crystal Huynh 20-year-old after donating in Kalamazoo felt her experience was done for
the wrong reason. Struggling at the time to pay for a college she donated twice, before making
the decision not to donate anymore

“I got sick almost immediately. It felt like a cold, but
worse. I have donated blood before, but this felt different. I did it
for all the wrong reasons. I didn’t do it to save lives, although it
helped me feel better that my plasma would help someone out. I
got less than 50 dollars to spend my free time in a facility that
took two hours of my time and of course, my plasma. Selling a
part of yourself to get by makes the good deed seem dirty. Almost
like selling yourself,” said Huynh.

Every person that donates is given a Visa gift card with a list of ATM’s to withdrawal
from. If the card is used like a debit card the card is charged for each transaction. Averaging 30-
40 dollars per visit with the ability to draw plasma within 7 days’ time. For this reason many donate
multiple times to make income. Plasma companies create great incentives
so people reach the max visits can enter into raffles. The reason
people pay for plasma and not blood because it is not directly going into
another person blood stream. The plasma is broken down and is put into
pharmaceuticals.

Shannon Campbell a Western University student studying Human
Resources used Biomat when funds were low.
“It’s not a four star establishment, but it serves its purpose. The
plasma place is cold and you feel like you are being pushed through an assembly line full of poor
people. To me it was worth the money it saves lives and if you are healthy enough why not donate,”
said Campbell.

Many kids in college cannot afford health insurance, but are often incentivized by plasma
centers to donate that exploit them.
Abby Cottman 21-year-old temporarily worked at Octapharma as a screener in downtown
Kalamazoo. Cottman resigned after a week, due to feeling the donation place truly was not making
a difference.

“The location of the center was on the more dangerous part of town. Multiple shootings
per week on the Northside of Kalamazoo and the largest population of the homeless. Those
homeless were 95 percent of the donors. There was the occasional college kid trying to pay rent
or family man coming in after work trying to actually donate ‘to do some good.’ Homeless or
lower income people that would come in thought of this as if it were their job. It’s similar to
‘work’ you go there early, lines would form around 6 a.m. and we would open at 7 a.m. You
would clock in as long as the screeners said you were good to donate, then they would be hooked
up to the needle and do your “work”. Imagine you got to your job an hour early and after waiting
an hour the boss said “sorry you can’t get paid today, go home,” said Cottman.

As a screener Cottman had difficulty giving people the no about donating with so many
relying on it as a source of income.
“There were multiple times I felt scared by the reactions of these people being told no, I
was glad I worked morning shift instead of night because I would’ve asked someone to walk me
out to my car. All over like $50 per donation that they would be ‘compensated for their time,’
said Cottman.

The most disheartening thing Cottman dealt with were the drawing for prizes based on
max amount of times donating.

“When I was there it was for a large flat screen TV.
What are homeless going to do with a flat screen TV? It
was so hard seeing these people acting the way they
were or struggling because they considered this three
hundred per month their income that they were content
with,” said Cottman

Kalamazoo plasma donation centers are often located in the poorer parts of the area like
downtown, making many feel the companies are targeting a specific demographic.

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