Some college students are risking their lives to drive up the value of their plasma.
There's a growing concern that some young folks, especially college students, are purposely contracting COVID-19 so that they can sell their plasma at a higher rate. Anyone who recovers from COVID is encouraged to donate plasma because it will contain antibodies that may help others better fight off the virus. According to the FDA, plasma The FDA says plasma “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”
And now, Bringham Young University's administrators at the Idaho campus announced that they'd opened an investigation into several reported cases of students who intentionally got infected so they could make more money from their plasma donations. The school has threatened the suspension of any student who they find out intentionally caught the virus.
“BYU-Idaho is deeply troubled by accounts of individuals who have intentionally exposed themselves or others to COVID-19, with the hope of getting the disease and being paid for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies…The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter. Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community,” the school said in a statement.
Every donation company has different offers for new donors, but East Idaho News discovered a few locations close to the school was offering as much as 200 for their first visits. And most locations allow people to donate up to two times within a seven day period. However, sometimes people can find ways to donate at different centers to get around the federally mandated waiting period. BYU-Idaho is currently offering financial assistance and mental health services to students who may feel desperate.
“If students are struggling, BYU-Idaho stands ready to help. There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety to make ends meet,” the school said.
That said, there are many folks out there who may be in situations where they feel they have little choice but to put their lives in danger to make ends meet, especially folks whose work involves being exposed to the public in enclosed spaces for long periods. Tuition at BYU alone can cost close to $20,000, making dangerous opportunities for extra cash even more attractive to students.
BYU is situated in Rexburg, Idaho, which according to the New York Times, recently became ranked as a nationwide COVID hotspot. BYU has so far confirmed 119 active cases of students contracting COVID and 20 cases in which employees had become infected with the virus as of Tuesday. In response to the large increase in cases, the school recently warned that they might have to shut down in-person classes and switch exclusively to remote learning.
The issue of plasma donation centers preying on desperate and poor people isn't a new phenomenon. ABC reports that about 80 percent of plasma centers in America are located in predominately low-income communities. They also tend to market to college students and set up shop close to colleges.
That being said, donating plasma is very important and is an activity that can save lives, but that doesn't mean that some of the predatory practices these companies engage in should be ignored either. It's really another sign of the times that so many young folks are willing to so easily put their lives and the lives of those around them at risk for a few extra dollars. Many believe this is just another illustration of how the system is failing too many Americans.
You can also watch a video featuring a doctor discussing this issue below.