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Perspective: It's OK to sell it

The first time I donated plasma, I was worried someone at the plasma center might recognize me. I felt the shallowness of that thought even as it occurred to me. You don’t see a lot of school teachers down at the plasma center. There’s a stigma around plasma donation. “You’ve got to own it,” my wife said. She sells her plasma at the same place I do.

Plasma is the urine-colored liquid part of your blood that carries the cells and enzymes around in your veins. It makes up about 55 percent of your blood, and a liter of it is worth about a hundred bucks at a plasma center near you. They call it donating, but it’s not donating. It’s selling. Not that I see anything wrong with selling your body parts for the greater good. If you can own it, as Breja would say, you get to feel good two ways when you sell your plasma. You get to feel like you’ve helped a trauma patient, or a burn victim, and you get to feel a hundred dollars richer.

The second time I donated plasma, the phlebotomist taking my blood turned out to be a Beloit College student. “Aren’t you Chris Fink?” she said. “My boyfriend had your class.” Things worsened on my third donation, when the new phlebotomist told me I had small veins. Oh great, I thought, a new insecurity I’ll have to learn to own.

I’ve given plasma nine times now, and only the more practiced phlebotomists are assigned to me, which is a little humiliating. The last one who stuck me, however, told me she’d seen smaller veins. “They’re not that small,” she said, “just deep.”

She knew just what to say.

Chris Fink is a professor of English and Environmental Studies at Beloit College. He is the author of Farmer's Almanac, A Work of Fiction.