HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — For people who are not afraid of needles, donating plasma is becoming a popular way to earn extra money. 

“I did it for financial gain,” donor Allison Austin said. “I was living paycheck to paycheck.”

First-time donors can make about $75 for each of their first few donations, and most people donate twice a week if they can. 

“That first month was over $640,” Austin said. “That’s groceries for the month that I don’t have to take out of my paycheck.”

Frequent donors get rewards as incentives.

“If you did nine donations in a month, they would give you a bonus,” Austin said. “That could be $75 on top of your regular donation pay.”

Austin said the donation process is quick and convenient. 

“It kind of fit into my schedule cause they opened at six in the morning, so I could get there right at six, donate, go back, pick my kid up, drop him at school, get to work,” Austin said. 

While a plasma donation helps donors financially, it also helps fill an urgent nationwide need in the medical community.

“We did see a really concerning drop over the summer months in blood donors coming in,” said Mandy McWherter, regional communications director for the American Red Cross of South Carolina. “We’re saying there’s an urgent need right now for blood donors. If people are feeling healthy and well, we encourage them to come out and give.”

The American Red Cross relies on volunteer donors. 

We do not pay [donors,] McWherter said. ‘“We do sometimes offer incentives that are provided by our generous sponsors that are ‘thank you items.’”

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Whether donors are getting paid or not, there is still a blood crisis, and the plasma given by donors is very valuable.

“Volunteer donors really make the difference in ensuring that we have a safe blood supply,” McWherter said. 

For Austin and her friends, the monetary gain was crucial. 

“It is a lot of life-changing money to some people,” Austin said.