This article was originally published in June 2019 and has since been updated.
That’s one way to be a bloody entrepreneur… literally.
20-year-old Carisa Barker is a shopping addict, and she’ll most likely go into a major withdrawal if she doesn’t get a shopping fix several times a week. Her happiness starts and ends with retail therapy. According to her, she loves her lifestyle because she doesn’t have to work so hard to fund her cheer-seeking trips.
The Salt Lake City student, who also works part-time as a nanny began to donate her blood plasma after a friend told her about the profits and brought her along on a trip to the clinic. She’d been doing it ever since, and in the past year, she’s made over $3,000 dollars from going in twice a week.
Speaking to the South West News Service, Barker said she’s so addicted to shopping that she hits the stores about three to four times a week .
“Clothes and shoes are my favorite things to buy and I also love beauty products,” she said. “It’s just a little bit of extra money that I can spend that I don’t feel I worked very hard for.”
All they need is the plasma
Carisa runs her own YouTube channel where she shares the details of her fast-paced life with her subscribers. She donates her blood plasma twice a week at BioLife Plasma Services in Layton, Utah. The clinic doesn’t issue payments for blood donations, but plasma donors receive payments.
Barker explains that after her blood is extracted and the contents are separated, the light yellow liquid, which is the plasma, would be taken and preserved while the solid components would be transfused back into her bloodstream. The process is known as plasmapheresis, and it usually doesn’t last longer than one hour.
“I go in and complete a survey to make sure I am feeling well that day, that I have no tattoos or piercings,” she explained. “They screen you and take your blood pressure and temperature. It takes them a while to pump the blood out and put it through the machine. The machine separates the red blood cells from the plasma. Then they put the blood back into my body. As long as I eat a lot of protein before I go and stay hydrated, I feel fine.”
She describes herself as a spender and not a saver
Barker isn’t apologetic about her lifestyle, and she says that as long as there are no health risks to donating her plasma, she’s not quitting anytime soon.
“I get $20 the first time and $50 the next time,” she said. “I would absolutely recommend it to people who are short of cash and want to go shopping,”
She explains that she has an honest-to-goodness addiction and she can’t bring her self to shop less let alone stop it completely. Her shopping trips give her a sense of power and euphoria.
“On each shopping trip I only spend about $50 but that adds up to $150 a week. If I see something that I like or there’s a discount or a good deal, I’ll just buy it,” she explained. “I feel powerful knowing that I have the money and I can buy stuff.”
Everyone around her has gotten used to her style
Barker encourages herself with the opinion that she’s doing a good deed. She explains that plasma is an essential component that helps people in physical trauma.
“There are no health risks that I know of and my parents are fine with me doing it,” Barker said. “My plasma is used to make medicines for people with rare diseases. It makes me feel good to know that I’m helping people. I plan to keep donating.”
Barker doesn’t merely shop with all her earnings. She also likes to travel a lot. She says that her friends have tried to caution her on the spend-as-she-earns habit, but she’s can’t make herself stop – even if she wanted to.
“My friends have told me to stop shopping but I can’t. I live at home and all of my money goes on shopping,” she said. “I would save a lot of money if I stopped but as long as I have money that I can spend, I’m going to keep doing it. “If I was ever at a point where I didn’t have money, I would stop. Shopping is my biggest expenditure but I also spend a lot on travel.”
Plasma: Gold in the blood.
Upon separation of the blood contents in a centrifuge, a process known as plasmapheresis, the yellow liquid decanted off from the solid cells and platelets is called the plasma. Plasma constitutes about 55% of blood by volume and is 92% water. The rest are proteins (mostly albumen), fibrinogens which facilitate blood clotting, globulins that transport compounds and act as antibodies to fight infections, and waste materials from the blood cells .
Plasma transfusion is performed in patients dealing with cancer, organ transplants, surgical operations, severe burns, shock, hemophilia, primary immune disorders, and trauma. It aids blood clotting and speeds up the healing process. Plasma also contains antibodies that fight off infections attacking the immune system.
There are several international regulations in place for the transfusion of blood and blood products. These rules ensure that practitioners perform the procedures appropriately. Speaking to SWNS, a representative for BioLife Plasma Services explains that strict tests must be undergone by donors before their plasma can be taken.
“Donors also must meet screening criteria for blood count (hematocrit) and total protein levels, along with other screening criteria, prior to each donation – additional testing is done every four months. BioLife adheres to those standards as part of our commitment to the highest standards of safety for our donors and our products that go out to patients.”
- Walters, Isolde. Woman donates blood plasma twice a week to go shopping. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2019/05/27/woman-donates-blood-plasma-twice-a-week-to-go-shopping/. 27-05-19
- Mathew & Varacallo. Physiology, Blood Plasma. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531504/. 20-01-19
- Yarrow, Kit. Why “Retail Therapy” Works. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-why-behind-the-buy/201305/why-retail-therapy-works. 02-05-13
- Carisa Barker. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEw2MmRWZYBVYAO9pXbTdSA
- BioLife Plasma Services. Official website. https://www.biolifeplasma.com/us/
- Stieglitz, Elliot. Plasmapheresis. Med Scape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1895577-overview. 06-04-18