Supporting those in need does not always come with a price tag. There are a variety of ways that you can provide aid to someone in need without having to open your wallet.

Volunteering is typically the route that the majority of people go, but there are other ways that you can give back on a smaller – but still impactful – scale. Donating plasma, for example, takes very little time to do but could help to save the lives of trauma patients who have lost a significant amount of their blood.

Donating Blood Vs. Donating Plasma

Donating plasma is a bit different from donating blood, so it’s important to make the distinction. There are two ways you can donate plasma – through “whole blood donation,” which is the process of donating blood that we are already familiar with, and by donating just your plasma. This last method can take up to anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours. Two needles are used in this process – one to pump your blood into a machine that separates out the plasma from the rest of your blood and one that puts the blood back into your body.

Before donating plasma, here is what you should know:

You can get paid for donating plasma.

Because donating plasma is not as common as simply donating blood – and requires a lengthier process – you may find a center that will actually pay you money to donate your plasma.

You can’t eat fatty foods before donating.

Consuming foods that are high in fat before donating plasma can actually make everything more tedious. Avoid eating pizza, burgers, or fries beforehand or else you risk slowing down the process.

Women who have been pregnant may not be able to donate.

The plasma of women who have been pregnant before contains antibodies that can cause adverse effects for the recipients patients receiving the plasma to experience difficulty breathing and can even cause the lungs to fill up with fluid.