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How to Sell Yourself for Cash

Perhaps you've thought about selling your car, your home or your garage-full of accumulated "things," but have you ever considered selling yourself, or, rather, byproducts of yourself, for money?

About 8 million Americans donate their blood in any given year, and the number one reason most donors choose to do so, according to the American Red Cross, is because they want to help others.

donate blood

Donating blood is one of the most common ways to help others by giving a part of yourself -- still, only 5 percent of those who are eligible do so each year.

But blood is not the only human byproduct that can be donated, and it's certainly not the only one that's in demand. Whether you're just curious, are seriously considering or know of someone who's "looking," here are some of the more common ways people can donate, or sell, byproducts of themselves for money.

Blood Plasma

Plasma is used to treat disorders such as hemophilia and immune system deficiencies, as well as to make products to treat and prevent diseases including tetanus, rabies, measles, rubella and hepatitis B.

Components of plasma are also used by hospitals and emergency rooms to treat shock and burn victims.

Plasma can be donated twice in a seven-day period, with a limited number of donations in a year, in a process similar to giving blood. There are about 400 for-profit plasma collection centers in the United States.

Who's Eligible: You must be 18 years old or older, weigh 110 pounds or more, be in good general health, and pass a medical history interview and brief physical examination.

What it Pays: From $9-$35 per donation. Plasma can also be donated, without pay.

Resources: Check the yellow pages for for-profit plasma collection centers near you. College campuses may also have information. On the Web:


Several agencies collect hair donations to make complimentary wigs for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation treatments, alopecia, burns, or other medical situations. It is also possible to sell your hair, at your own risk, via the Web.

Who's Eligible: Hair must be a minimum of 10-12 inches in length, clean and dry, and bundled into a ponytail or braid for donations. Requirements vary for selling on your own.

What it Pays: Varies widely depending on the quality of hair and length, but may range from $200 to several thousand if selling to a private buyer. One online wig company will pay $3-$5 per ounce of "usable" hair.



Sperm banks collect sperm from donors that will later be used to help an individual or couple have a child. People who use donor sperm include single women and lesbian couples, couples in which the man is sterile, or couples who are trying to avoid passing on a genetic disorder carried by male sperm.

Who's Eligible: Men must typically be between the ages of 18 and 45 and pass testing for genetically linked diseases, communicable disease, drug abuse, and general health. Some sperm banks also require that men have attended at least two years at a four-year university.

In order to be approved as a donor, the semen must meet minimum sperm count levels, as sperm is frozen before use and some sperm are lost during this time. Reportedly, only 1 percent to 2 percent of men who apply as donors will be accepted.

Sperm banks typically ask men who are accepted as donors to sign a contract committing to one or two sperm donations a week, for at least six months.

What it Pays: It varies by sperm bank, but typically between $35-$65 per specimen. Payment may be withheld for six months (during which time the specimen is frozen and then retested for disease).

Resources: You should only donate sperm to a state-licensed sperm bank to ensure that your sperm will be used ethically.


Women can donate eggs to help a couple have a child, or for research purposes. It is an involved process that involves taking various hormones for weeks and collecting eggs with a needle inserted through the wall of the vagina into the ovary.

The long-term health risks of egg donations have recently been called into question, as little is known about the effects of egg donation on women's health.

Who's Eligible: Women typically must be between the ages of 19 and 32, be in good health, a non-smoker, not use drugs and must pass a medical history and disease and psychological testing.

What it Pays: Payment for egg donations vary widely, from $3,000 to $25,000 and up, depending on the buyer. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, "Although there is no consensus on the precise payment that oocyte [egg] donors should receive, at this time sums of $5,000 or more require justification and sums above $10,000 go beyond what is appropriate."


Giving Yourself Away


Though living organ donation can be done anonymously, it's most often a parent who donates an organ, or part of an organ, to a child.

If you're interested in helping others, there are also ways to give "yourself" away, namely by donating blood, bone marrow or organs to those in need.

Blood Donation

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood for emergencies or to treat cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia and other illnesses, but only 5 percent of the eligible U.S. population donates blood each year.

Who's Eligible: To donate blood you must be healthy, be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old if allowed by state law, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not have donated blood in the last eight weeks (56 days).


Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Cells

Bone marrow and peripheral blood cells are used to help people with leukemia and other blood diseases. Bone marrow is removed with a needle from the back of your pelvic bone, and requires either general or regional anesthesia.

Peripheral blood cells are donated during a process called apheresis, in which your blood is removed through a needle, passed through an apheresis machine that separates out the blood-forming cells, then returns the remaining blood through a needle in your other arm. Donors must also take an injection of a drug to increase blood-forming cells for four to five days prior to their donation.

Who's Eligible: You must be between the ages of 18 and 60, willing to donate to any patient in need and meet certain health guidelines.


Umbilical Cord Blood

A woman can choose to donate her baby's umbilical cord blood to help someone with leukemia, aplastic anemia or other blood diseases. The blood-forming cells found in cord blood are being studied as a new method for treating such patients.

Who's Eligible: Women must be at least 18 years old (16 in some locations), in general good health and live in a community where cord blood donation is available (it's still a relatively new process and not all hospitals take donations at this time).

Note: Donating cord blood is different from privately banking cord blood. If you choose to donate your baby's cord blood, it's available for anyone's use. If you store the cord blood privately, it is reserved for your family's use, and you will usually be charged a fee for storage.


Living Organ Donation

A person can choose to donate an organ (kidney) or a part of an organ, such as the liver, lung or pancreas, to someone in need of a transplant. Though the recipient is usually a close family member, they can also be a more distant relative, friend, spouse or co-worker. However, you can also choose to donate anonymously, or to donate to someone you do not know.


Recommended Reading

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