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Only on 10: Plasma collection center set to open in Warwick

A company that compensates people who donate their plasma will open Tuesday in Warwick, making it the first of its kind in Rhode Island. (WJAR)

A company that compensates people who donate their plasma will open Tuesday in Warwick, making it the first of its kind in Rhode Island.

CSL Plasma Center, located at 1775 Bald Hill Road, will pay donors $50 each time they donate plasma, which is the liquid that carries the red and white blood cells. Patients cannot donate more than twice a week.

"Our plasma is used for life-saving therapies that go to help treating immune deficiencies, breathing and blood disorders,” said Matt Schramm, the center manager of CSL Plasma.

The donated plasma is used to make biotherapies, which is sold to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

Donating plasma is similar to giving blood. Donors have their blood drawn from their arm. When donating plasma, the blood is cycled through equipment which separates the plasma from the blood. When that's complete, the red and white blood cells flow back into the donor's arm.

A typical donation takes about 90 minutes.

“We try to create a very happy and welcoming environment and we know that it takes a while so we do offer free Wi-Fi to our donors. They come in, they read books, they'll bring their tablets, they'll get caught up on Netflix,” Schramm said.

Schramm acknowledges there are people who are skeptical about donors being paid for their plasma.

“Come on in,” he said. “We’re happy to talk with you. We’d love to engage you in a conversation. We’d love to have you through these doors. We’ll show you the process. We’ll show you what it takes. We’re trying to create an environment here where people want to donate.”

To be eligible to donate, patients need to be 18 or older, in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and have had no tattoos or piercings within the past 12 months.

CSL Plasma plans to open a facility on Newport Avenue in East Providence in the coming weeks.

Schramm said patients will receive $50 the first five times they donate plasma but said the compensation is subject to change once the company’s promotion is over.

In a statement, Kelly Isenor, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, wrote, “In the United States, all blood components for direct transfusion to patients come from unpaid volunteers who donate blood through the Red Cross or another not-for-profit community blood center. U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations require labeling of blood products from paid donors, and it is less likely a hospital will accept blood products from paid donors for transfusion purposes. The FDA requires that any blood product involving monetary compensation must be labeled accordingly. Per FDA guidelines, any Red Cross blood product for patient transfusion is labeled with ‘Volunteer Donor.’ Voluntary donations encourage people to give out of altruistic motivations and support the safest possible blood supply in the U.S.”

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