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Body Parts You Can Sell

This article was written by in Income. 14 comments.


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If you’re desperate for cash, you may have considered selling some of your extraneous body parts. In some ways, I’m glad there isn’t much of a market for this. If there were, in desperate times, people may be more than willing to carve up their own body — or someone else’s without consent — in order to sell an organ, such as a kidney, in order to afford food for another day.

Long waiting lists for organ donations is a problem that shouldn’t exist, however. I know someone suffering from polycycstic kidney disease (PKD) who waited years before receiving a transplant; other patients may not be as lucky. He might have been willing to pay in a legal market for speedier treatment. In the United States, this would be illegal, and if there is a black market, it’s not big enough to have an overall effect on the economics of health care.

For those who need the money, there are other options for selling your body or parts of it.

1. Sperm

Men know that their sperm can earn money, but only for those who make the cut. If you have trouble in the dating scene, forget about becoming a sperm donor. Even those of us with great personality can get turned away from the clinic. Only about 5% of potential donors are accepted. Your chances are better if you’re six feet tall, have blue eyes, a college education, and dimples. Those who are accepted could potentially earn more than $1,000 a month. That’s a job.

2. Egg (ovum)

The female equivalent of selling potential reproduction is the egg. For all the talk about income equality between the sexes, women have quite an advantage here; a coveted donation — and egg donors are highly in demand, and also selective — could earn a donor up to $10,000. It’s not only the demand that increases the payment; the donor must go through a process of hormone injections and other procedures which could be life-threatening.

3. Clinical trials

You could earn up to $1,000 for participating in a drug trials or other clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies often need volunteers to test drugs or other treatments for a variety of conditions. The risk of side effects varies, so anyone thinking about this form of earning money must take that into consideration.

4. Hair

It’s common to donate hair to organizations that provide wigs to young cancer patients, such as Locks of Love. There are organizations that will pay certain donors for their hair, particularly those who do not treat their hair with any damaging chemicals like dyes. This isn’t a lucrative endeavor, with most buyers paying $5 an ounce. The weight of hair varies from one individual to the next, but it’s unlikely anyone can produce more than eight ounces of hair each year.

5. Plasma

Unlike eggs and sperm, plasma doesn’t discriminate against unattractive or unintelligent people. All you need to be is over 18 years old, weigh at least 100 pounds, and be healthy. Repeat donors can earn $55 a week, and the process only requires being connected to a plasma pump.

If you were thinking about putting one of your body parts on eBay and selling to the highest bidder, forget about it. It’s against the auction site’s terms of service.

In general, I don’t like the idea of trading any part of my body for money. It’s hard to say what I would do in a desperate situation.

Published or updated December 1, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar DoNotWait

Well, I would not trade one of my body part either, unless it would help someone very close to me. The thing is you can’t control who will benefit from this generous “donation”. I one I like the most and is less compromising I guess would be the Hair. Good cause and it grows back. I also can sell a bit of weight!!! Doh, not possible! ;-)

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avatar Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook

I donate plasma; I use it to pay the bills that unemployment doesn’t cover. But the requirements for being able to donate plasma are more stringent than that, that’s just what they advertise to get you in the door.
“Be healthy” means that you can not have an autoimmune disease such as HIV or rheumatoid arthritis, can never have had sugar or protein in your urine, can’t be suffering from a cold, cough, or allergy symptoms, be pregnant or nursing in the last 6 months.
You can’t have spent more than a certain amount of time in certain countries (like 6 months in UK), have taken certain medications, have gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months, donated blood in the last 8 weeks, lived or had sex with someone with hepatitis in the last 12 months, been in jail for over 72 consecutive hours in the past 12 months, or participated in certain “high risk” activities, like man-on-man sex since 1976.
Before you donate, they also check your temperature, blood pressure/pulse, and draw an ounce of blood to check your protein and hermatocrit (% red blood cells to total blood-must be under 55%), and visually check the quality of your plasma (e.g. if you had pizza for dinner the previous night, there will be a lot of free cholesterol floating in your blood that will make your plasma appear cloudy. If they allowed you to donate, this could clog the lines and will cause the plasma pump to have difficulties differentiating between plasma and red blood cells)
This list isn’t complete and the information is NOT online. If there is an interest in this, I can see if I can get a copy of the requirements when I donate on Friday.

Also, how much you make donating plasma depends on your weight. That’s because they don’t (can’t) withdraw as much if you weigh less. You have to weigh at least 175 lbs to donate the full 880ml and get the full amount of cash ($20 the first donation of the week, $35 the second). You can’t donate more than twice in a seven day period and must be at least two days from one donation to the next.
The process for the full 880ml generally takes about 60-70 minutes, but mine always takes longer, 75-90 minutes. In general, the higher your protein count and lower your hermatocrit, the quicker it will go. Of course, this time doesn’t include the time to get screened or waiting to get screened which rarely takes under 10 minutes. I seem to average about a 30 minute wait and it get go over an hour if they are really busy.

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avatar Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook

Oh, and Flexo,

What part of the body parts for money transaction to you object? Are you okay with body part donations, like donating a kidney to a sick relative, donating hair for Locks for Love, or donating whole blood to the Red Cross?

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avatar Steve

Most of the ways to earn money with your body parts aren’t particularly lucrative. For instance, here in Seattle there is (or was) a study on malaria; you would get $1000 for letting them infect you with a curable form of the disease. However you had to spend, IIRC, 4 to 7 days in isolation in a hotel room. That works out to maybe $10/hour – better than minimum wage but not by much.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

Absolutely cannibalistic!

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avatar Doctor S

I wouldn’t be interested in selling these things to just anyone. If I knew someone who needed any of these, I would say “Take as much as I can give!!!!”. I can’t help much with the hair issue, mainly because it’s not growing back at the same rate as it used to!! I would however, gladly, give up one of my kidneys or a piece of my liver if I knew a friend who needed a transplant.

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avatar jim

Sperm and hair are no big deal to donate. Plasma is a bit of work but generally safe and also a very good thing to do to help others.
Donating an egg is a big deal and involves an invasive procedure. Its a minor, out patient procedure but theres always some risk. Its selective application which might include submission of SAT scores and psychological evaluation. Its a 2-3 month long process.
I’d avoid medical trials personally, I don’t really have any desire to be a guinea pig.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦45 (Newbie)

There are medical tests that are NOT clinical trials. I’ve given blood at least twice to studies that needed a wide variety of samples. It took just a few minutes and I was decently compensated.
In fact, MSN Money did a video about it called “Make money with medical tests.”
And here’s one that always irritated men: I got paid $35 to watch a porn film for a medical study. Honest.

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avatar retirebyforty

Yuk, I don’t want to sell any of these. I donate blood once in a while.

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avatar Shaun

Interesting… over here in Australia we don’t get paid for blood or plasma donations, it’s more like gifting or community service. Not too sure about sperm or eggs – I haven’t looked into it – but it’s highly unlikely we would have the demand anyway!

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avatar Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

The plasma donated here isn’t for community benefit, it’s used as an ingredient by pharmaceutical companies to make medications for immune disorders

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avatar Money Reasons

I would have never guess that sperm donors could make that much money!

Of course, I don’t fix the description, but it’s still interesting all the same…

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avatar Janet

I’m sure I could make bank selling my eggs … but what a creepy thought.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I have a friend who makes 2 trips a week to donate plasma. I’m jealous she can!

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