You Can Get Paid to Donate Bone Marrow for Transplants

Did you know it’s illegal to sell body parts for money? So… how is it possible to get paid for donating bone marrow?

Be the Match offers a registry service which matches patients and donors. According to their website, you will not be paid to donate.

Be the Match will, however, cover the cost of the procedure as well as travel costs.

They also suggest they “may reimburse other non-related costs on a case-by-case basis.” This is open to interpretation, but it’s a grey area.

Of course, donors never pay a fee to donate.

This is similar to donating blood plasma for money. You can donate twice every seven consecutive days and can earn up to $400 per month for just a few hours a week.

Bone Marrow Donor Requirements

In order to become a donor, you must be between the ages of 18 and 60 years old with no recent illnesses or pregnancy, and you must not have:

  • Asthma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Rheumatoid, psoriatic, or other advanced arthritis
  • An autoimmune disease affecting your entire body
  • Have received xenotransplant (animal tissue transplant)
  • Severely underweight or BMI higher than 40
  • Lyme Disease
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Tuberculosis
  • Any other medical condition listed with Be the Match

Bone Marrow Donation Risks

As with any medical procedure, there are always potential risks involved. Common complications include damage to the nerve, bone, or muscle in your hip region as well as potential issues with anesthesia.

Approximately 2.4% of patients donating bone marrow experience complications.

Rest assured, you’ll be covered with a donor life, disability and medical insurance policy for any complications related to donating bone marrow.

Bone Marrow Donation Recovery

The bone marrow donation takes place in a hospital as an outpatient procedure. You’ll check in the morning of the procedure, and the nursing staff will monitor you until the anesthesia wears off.

All hospitals use different equipment to extract the bone marrow, but most do not require stitches.

Many times, donors are discharged the same day or, at the very latest, the next morning (assuming there aren’t any complications).

Full recovery should take about three weeks, and you’ll be glad to know that bone marrow donations don’t weaken your immune system.

After donation, bone marrow fully replaces itself in four to six weeks.

How Many Times Can You Donate Bone Marrow?

This is a common question and one that cannot be answered definitively. When you sign up to become a bone marrow donor, you’ll be placed on a donor registry, and you may be contacted right away. Alternatively, it could be years before you’re contacted (if ever) to make a donation.

Whether you’re called to donate depends on geographical location, blood type, and other factors.

Bone Marrow Donation Pain

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, the actual bone marrow donation procedure for transplants is not painful, nor does it remove bone.

There is some discomfort that can result from bone marrow donation, but from what I’ve read in the personal accounts of bone marrow donation, there isn’t much pain other than the prick of the needle and a little soreness.

I’ll be honest, the thought of donating marrow used to strike fear in me. Somewhere along the way, I picked up that they have to put a needle into your bone and that it was very painful to remove the stuff. Thankfully, that just isn’t true these days with medical advancements. It’s very similar to drawing blood.

The procedure is usually done in a hospital under general anesthesia, and you don’t feel a thing.

Why do I talk about the pain myths about this procedure? Well, because plenty of people sign up to be considered a donor of bone marrow, but when they are asked to actually donate, most people back out.

Some back out due to fear. Because of this, and because of the small percentage of people who are matched, you often hear stories of people who die before they can find a bone marrow donor.

Getting Paid for Bone Marrow Transplant Donation

To help combat this lack of donor enthusiasm, there is an effort to allow people to receive compensation, for donating to a marrow transplant.

You can get paid for sperm, eggs, and even for carrying someone else’s baby.

And now bone marrow.

But here’s why you should consider donating bone marrow with or without compensation.

Used to treat leukemia and lymphoma, bone marrow donations save lives. If you’ve felt the urge to give to a good cause (but maybe aren’t financially able to at this time), donating your bone marrow, blood plasma, and red blood cells is a great way to support the cause.

What’s the fear in letting people make money from bone marrow? People at the National Marrow Donor Program say that it would create a bad pool of donors–those that would lie about their health and behaviors. They have some other reasons as well for not wanting this change.

Related: 10 Ways to Give More to Charity

Getting Paid to Donate Stem Cells, Blood Plasma, Sperm, Eggs

While I wouldn’t suggest you try to make a living donating body parts, I could see this as a way to help someone out and make some extra cash in the process.

Here are some other (legal) ways you can make money with your body:

Peripheral Blood Stem Cells

StemExpress Donor Centers pay donors in the form of gift cards ranging from $25-$350 for your time.

If interested, you’ll make an appointment and schedule a health screening.

Then, if eligible, you can donate and be paid for each of the following procedures:

  1. Whole Blood Donation: $25-$50
  2. Bone Marrow/PBSC Donation: $250
  3. White Blood Cells (Apheresis): $100
  4. Mobilized White Blood Cells (Apheresis) Collection: $200 after the first set of injections; $350 for each white blood cell donation thereafter.
  5. Specialized Blood: $50

Research centers such as Fred Hutch seem to also pay for bone marrow donations but details are not available online. If you are looking for a center in your area, you may just need to start calling around and see what you can find near you.

Be the Match still offers compensation for travel as well as the medical procedure. Since the procedure takes approximately 20-30 hours total, it’d be nice to be compensated for your time.

Blood Plasma

Donating blood plasma is an easy way to make up to $400 per month for just a few hours of your time. You will undergo a physical exam to ensure you’re healthy and eligible to donate. You can donate two times every seven days, and while all donor centers have their own pay schedules and bonuses, you can easily earn up to $4,800 per year.

You’ll want to make sure to eat plenty of protein prior to donating plasma to avoid deferral.

Each donation, you’ll answer a series of questions on a computer monitor, endure a tiny finger prick and blood pressure and weight check, and if you pass, you’ll be eligible to donate.

Plasmapheresis is the process of filtering the blood, separating the plasma from the antibodies. You are hooked up to an IV, and blood is removed from your body, separated from the plasma (which is collected in a large, sterile bottle), and blood is returned to you. This is all done in 3-5 different rotations (so you’re not drained all at once).

The process is easy and fairly painless. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to donate, and you’ll be $50-75 richer.

Side Note: You can’t donate whole blood and blood plasma or at the same time. In fact, if you’ve donated whole blood recently, you’ll be deferred from donating blood plasma for eight weeks from the date of your last blood draw.

Sperm Donation

Healthy men with healthy swimmers can earn up to $1,000 per month in extra side hustle income from donating sperm. Guys, you must be between the ages of 18 and 40, though 18-35 is ideal. You’ll have to pass a physical exam and provide a semen sample.

Once you get the all clear to proceed, you’ll be asked to donate at least once a week, but ideally, you’d be able to donate 6-10 times per month. You’ll be asked to abstain from sexual intercourse for 2-3 days before your sample is given to increase fertility.

Donating Eggs for Money

Egg donation is one of the most lucrative ways to make money through medical procedures. According to the Center for Human Reproduction, the average egg donor earns $8,000 per successful egg retrieval. You can earn up to $14,000 in special cases where you qualify and produce a higher number of eggs.

Local NYC donors must be between 21-34 years old. For women traveling to NYC from outside the metropolitan area, age requirements are 21-29 years of age.

Because egg donation is a more invasive procedure, requiring the administration of hormones and egg retrieval under IV sedation, it pays a hefty fee. This may be a great option to finally pay off your student loan debt!

As for whether there is something wrong about offering cash for donations (i.e. people should just do it for free). Yes, it would be great if more people gave, but the anecdotal evidence is saying that relying simply on generosity isn’t enough. Is the solution cash? Maybe so.

What’s your take on making money from bone marrow donation?

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

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  1. Avatar Jennifer Malcomn says

    I would be willing to donate bone marrow because it could help someone and I hate to say this but I would hope to be compensated

  2. Avatar Stephen Staniszewski says

    I would donate I’m healthy cars broke down hardly no income at all why not

  3. Avatar Sulaiman Hassan says

    I will donate bone marrow but if i can get paid

  4. Avatar ontargetcoach says

    You could ensure a good donor pool by requiring x amount of usable blood donations before being considered for this type of pay. Maybe that would help ensure the donors are healthy.