Companies Are Offering High Payments To Mexicans Crossing The Border With Temporary Visas To Donate Blood Plasma
Thousands of Mexicans cross the border into the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood plasma to profit-making pharmaceutical companies that lure them with Facebook ads and colorful flyers promising hefty cash rewards.
The donors, including some who say the payments are their only income, may take home up to $400 a month if they donate twice a week and earn various incentives, including “buddy bonuses” for recruiting friends or family. Unlike other nations that limit or forbid paid plasma donations at a high frequency out of concern for donor health and quality control, the U.S. allows companies to pay donors and has comparatively loose standards for monitoring their health.
Donating plasma too frequently can hurt a donor’s immune system. A donor’s level of the antibody immunoglobulin G should be screened every four months under guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But in the U.S., donors are still allowed to give plasma up to 104 times a year, far more than in most other countries. Selling plasma has been banned in Mexico since 1987.
A21-year-old Mexican studying to be a paramedic said she gives plasma twice a week in El Paso, Texas. She said she often faints, gets migraines and has numbness in her limbs. The more she donates plasma, the weaker she feels. She now has trouble lifting stuff, problems with my muscles.
The FDA requires companies to monitor patient health before each donation. In some CSL centers, the payment amount depends on body weight, which determines how much blood plasma can be collected. Donors weighing between 110 and 149 pounds receive $20 per donation, while donors between 175 and 400 pounds earn up to $40. However, a person who doesn’t finish the donation for any reason doesn’t get paid.
To avoid getting turned away at the clinics for being underweight, which has happened in the past, Donator says she regularly fools the scales by putting water bottles in her pockets. Her trick has never been noticed.