CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Business continues to grow at the city's only blood plasma donation center.
Located on Charleston's West Side, IBR Plasma Center is nearing its one-year anniversary of doing business in the city. When it opened in July, the center was seeing about 600 people per week, but that number has grown by about 50 percent over the past few months, assistant manager Buck Evans said.
Although the state of the national economy has left many jobless and looking for easy money, Evans said he isn't sure the economy has much to do with the growing interest in plasma donation in Charleston.
About three years ago, Evans worked for a plasma center in Huntington that saw about 400 donors a day. He said Charleston's center has yet to see that kind of business.
"And the economy was better then," he said.
The center in Charleston averages 150 donors a day, and Evans said the number usually goes up at the end of the month.
"We attribute that to welfare payments," he said.
Welfare payments are typically made during the first week of the month.
The first donation pays $25 with a possible $5 bonus, depending on how the donor heard about the company, Evans said. A donor is paid $30 for the second visit.
"We're paying them for their time, not for their plasma," Evans said.
Many donors are regulars at the center and have established rapport with the employees. They have nicknames for each other and joke back and forth during donations.
The center employs 32 people.
Terrell Harris-Bentley doesn't fit the mold of donors who give their plasma to supplement welfare payments. As a medical student, the 27-year-old said he believes in the company's mission of providing much-needed plasma products to health care providers.
"I feel it's good to do," he said. "That's the main reason I do it, not the money."
"They don't pay that well anyway," Harris-Bentley said, adding that he uses the money for bus fare to and from school.
It takes about an hour to donate. Evans doesn't know why, but he said women tend to take less time in the donor chair than men.
A donor must give plasma at least twice before the center sells his or her plasma.
Each donor is screened for hepatitis and HIV and is given a basic physical before any blood is drawn. Although donors are asked what medications they are taking and if they are using any illegal drugs, the center does not perform drug tests, Evans said.