Let me first start by clarifying that it is illegal to sell body parts in America. By law, specifically the National Organ Transplantation Act passed in 1984 prohibits "any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce." It don't matter what body part it is. Selling your tissues, and organs even after you die will land you in jail.
As with all laws there are loop-holes or guidelines, as the government would like to call it, which I will not delve into as I am neither an attorney nor a bureaucrat. That said, thousands of people in the US visit hospitals, research centers and universities to sell, or donate as they like to say, their plasma or even blood. These so-called donors are compensated for their valuable time that they spend while travelling to and fro and the time spent while donating their blood. In some cases, they are also reasonably reimbursed for travel costs. The amount paid usually varies depending on what their blood/plasma is used for by the organization that they are donating to. Therefore some people end up getting paid as low as $30 per half a liter of blood to as high a few dollars per milliliter.
Like with the Red Cross blood drive, not everyone is eligible to donate blood. The screening is usually more stringent if the blood is to be used for treatment or blood infusion purposes unlike if it is to be used for research. With the latter use, they are the ones who pay more but they are sometimes very particular with their donors as they may be running long term research studies or require specific blood factors/components which vary across populations.
Donating Blood Saves Life
Recently I enrolled as a blood donor in a research center near my place of work. The requirement for this center is that I be willing to be a long term donor, not be taking certain medications and have good veins on the arm for drawing blood. The first two were the easy part. As for the third requirement, they don't use one of those small nice needles to used for withdrawing blood in hospitals. Ever seen what they use to jab cows? Okay, I've exaggerated a bit but you get the drift. Fortunately, its not that different from donating blood only that its done fast.
The research center pays $10 for the prick (needle stick injury) and $1 for every 2 milliliters. On average they collect 200 milliliters, so you get paid $110 (plus your income tax rate). You are called once every few weeks and the amount required can vary depending on their research needs.
For now, I'll try it for a while and see how it goes. I'm told some of their donors have been doing it for years and they are alright. All I need to do is eat properly (I have to cut down on barbecues and eating out!) and stay healthy. That means exercising so that my blood has the right balance. Which is good for me, only that I get paid for it. Although I would like to, my travels to Kenya prevent me from donating my blood to the Red Cross. So instead, I've chosen to get paid for donating my blood for research. If I were to get lucky and VERY healthy too, I could make more than $40,000 per year if I get to donate the maximum allowable quantity of 91.5 liters!
With the average man having between 5 to 6 liters of blood, it is possible to donate more than half-a-liter per visit. After all, blood regenerates fast because blood cells are quickly replenished by the body, so it's not that bad for my health. What's more, the blood used for research purposes could be used to discover life saving medicines or medical procedures or bring advancements science.