PORTLAND, Ore. – The line at ZLB Plasma Services in Portland forms early, before daylight, well before the doors open.
Brigid Cassidy is in the line, again. Many of those in the line are repeat donors. By 7 a.m., the line snakes around the block.
They queue up as often as they can to donate blood plasma. The most often they can donate is twice a week.
Cassidy says she usually sees up to 80 people on most mornings. Her arms are permanently bruised from the needles used to draw her blood.
Cassidy and the others in line are paid between $15 and $35 for their donations. The heavier a person is, the more they can donate, and the more they get paid.
She is an out-of-work hair stylist with a trail of tears behind her, including the death of her daughter, 18, from complications brought on by cystic fibrosis last year.
Then she lost her job, and then her apartment. She and her son, 3, moved in with her mother. The memories bring tears to her eyes as she waits in the cold with the other donors.
Cassidy recalls better days and how she used to view the people standing in line waiting, how she could not believe how people could donate plasma for money.
“Now, I’m one of those,” she said as the doors open and the line begins to move.
Others standing in line say they have seen the number of people getting in line to donate getting larger as the economy gets worse.
ZLB Plasma officials won’t say if they are seeing more donors, but employees at the clinic told KATU News that they are busier than ever.
Additionally, compensation rates for plasma donors went down on March 1. ZLB Plasma Services declined to say why the payments have decreased.
Brigid Cassidy gets her number, 72, and waits for her turn to again donate plasma. With luck, she’ll be done by 9 a.m.
With the competition for jobs as fierce as ever, it’s likely she will be back.
“Life is not always easy,” Cassidy said. “So, you gotta do what you gotta do these days.”
To learn more about KATU's report on egg and sperm donation, click here.