This is a post by my husband, Aaron. -Anna
You may not be aware of this but your body is a potential goldmine worth thousands of dollars to the right people. Any number of body parts (or excretions) can be sold for cash if you have the stomach for it (no pun intended) and are an ethically sound individual. We’ll start with the easy ways to earn cash with your body and work our way up to the more strange, unusual, and potentially illegal and unethical ways to sell your body.
If you chose to take part in any of the suggestions below, be sure to deal with only licensed and approved facilities. Use your own judgement and weigh the payday against potentially harmful side affects, any ethical and moral dilemma’s you may face, and any big trouble you might get yourself into should you participate in the more risqué side of the body-for-cash market.
Your Body is a Goldmine (If You So Choose) – Selling Body Parts for Cash…
She was called Goldie Locks for a reason, folks. Human hair is a valuable commodity for wig makers and probably one of the least painfully ways to make buck off your body. In most cases you’ll need at least 10 inches to sell and the pay scale varies depending on color, thickness, length, ethnicity, and purity (meaning you didn’t bleach it blonde every two weeks). You won’t become rich selling your hair unless you are Rapunzel, mainly because of how long it takes for your hair to grow out to a suitable length, but those dead cells that grow out of your scalp can make you some cash. (Information on donating your hair)
Most places don’t pay for blood donations, but within your blood there are little dollar-signs (ching ching $$) called plasma, which people do pay for. Plasma isn’t actually blood, it’s the liquid that the red blood cells are suspended in. The procedure is slightly different than donating blood and a bit more painful. It also takes longer than donating blood because they withdraw the blood, separate the plasma, then put the blood sans plasma back into your body. The good news? The human body replaces plasma faster than blood, so you can donate more often, up to twice a week. The going rate for plasma varies and some clinics pay more if you go frequently. You can expect anywhere from $20-60. (Information on donating plasma)
Platelets are blood cells that help control and stop bleeding by forming scabs when you are injured. Again, it’s different from simply donating blood but like donating plasma, platelets regenerate quickly meaning you can donate often. Compensation depends on your weight and how frequently you donate. You can expect anywhere from $20-35. (Information on donating platelets)
If a woman finds that she is producing insane amounts of breast milk, she shouldn’t let that precious leche go to waste and should instead put those mammaries to work. Breast milk is perfectly legal to sell in the United States and a month’s supply of the good stuff can net anywhere from $300-1200. (Information on donating breast milk)
Donating bone marrow is tricky and depending on how it’s extracted can be extremely painful, requiring surgery. It seems to be a murky minefield of legality that I am not qualified to interpret but I’ll try. Donating appears to be legal if you have the marrow extracted from blood cells taken from your arm but illegal if the bone marrow is harvested from the hip bone, using a 5 inch needle. Ouch. It’s also quite hard to find a genetic match for your marrow but if you can get through all the hurdles, the set price for bone marrow is approximately $3000. (Information on donating bone marrow)
Selling your seed can net you up to a $1000 a month, but it’s not as easy or as fun as the media (or movies) makes it sound, and very few men actually qualify. You need to be in excellent health, have a clean medical background, be within a certain age, height and weight range, have a post secondary education, and be attractive (who determines that, I am not sure). You can’t use tobacco or another drugs (in any form), and can’t be a heavy drinker. You also need to be able to “deliver” an amount of sperm that is about twice that of what a typical guy produces. If you meet the rigorous requirements, theoretically, you could donate once every 24 hours but most sperm banks prefer variety and may not want large amounts of your sperm. I know you are special, but the world doesn’t need 200 of you. Compensation for your DNA can range from $35 to $100 depending on the size of the sperm bank, how much sperm you can produce in a single session, and how often you donate. Anonymous donors typically get paid less as well. An individual sperm, on average is worth about 0.00000033 cents each, but don’t worry, men produce anywhere from 40-600 million sperm per session.
I have to admit, at a low point in my life, I considered selling my sperm and got as far finding a facility, but in the end, I chickened out and knowing what I know now, my precious seed probably wouldn’t have been deemed worthy anyway. (Find a sperm bank in your area)
Women can make up to $10,000 by selling their eggs, but it isn’t easy and is more invasive and dangerous than dudes selling their sperm. Just like the men, potential candidates must be in good health with a clean medical background, be within a certain age range (typically between 21 and 35 years old), intelligent, attractive and athletic. Very few will make the cut. Egg donation is a multi-step procedure (typically lasting a month from start to finish) involving hormone injections, sedation and potentially harmful side effects. Plus women are born with only a certain number off eggs and unlike guys, women don’t produce more, so once they are gone they’re gone. If you are cool with all that, you can repeat the process once every few months. (Information on donating your eggs)
Ladies, you can rent out your womb for a pretty hefty fee if your baby hotel fits the requirements. You must healthy with a clean medical background, be between the ages of 21 and 41, have given birth within the past 7 years, reside in a surrogate-friendly state, have a supportive partner, a stable income and life insurance. If you meet the requirements, surrogate fees can range from $20,000 to $35,000 with the prospective parents picking up the tab for all medical procedures. If you decided to be a surrogate it’s always best to lawyer up, know your rights and make sure everything is in writing. (Information on surrogacy)
Provided you qualify, you can practically make a living being a human guinea pig. New drugs are being developed by pharmaceutical companies all the time and they need human lab rats to test on before they are approved for use by the general public. Pay depends on what “phase” that particular medicine or treatment is being tested is in, the size the focus group and the length of the study (some can be a day, others weeks). Requirements for participation vary depending on what drug is being tested. Some clinical studies need geriatrics, smokers, diabetics…there is a trial for just about everyone, so just because you don’t have a clean medical background does not mean your are automatically excluded. Possible side effects and risks are incalculable because you will be testing medicines that have yet to be proven 100% safe. Typically, human clinical trials are the last step in the approval process so most side-effects are known but there’s no guarantee on safety.
At another low financial point in my life I signed up for a medical study. I actually got as far as having all the prep work complete (blood draws, paperwork, etc.) but in the end I dropped out the day before I was supposed to begin the trial, because faced with potentially damaging the one thing I did own free and clear, my body, I decided I didn’t actually hit my financial bottom. Instead, I got a temp-job re-stocking paint swatch samples. Turns out, it probably wasn’t much better than testing unknown drugs. (Learn more about medical/clinical trials)
Rent Space on your Body
Advertising agencies are always looking for new and clever ways to reach their target audience so nowadays you might see an ad on your co-worker’s bald spot. It sounds totally ridiculous but certain ad agencies pay you money if you are willing to give them some skin to place an ad on. The ads usually comes in the form of a “henna” style tattoo (which is temporary) and you’ll need to meet certain contractual obligations before getting paid, like sending photos of yourself wearing the ad at different intervals throughout the process. The pay scale varies depending on where the ad is placed and the length of time you’ll wear the advertisement. You usually have to go through a third-party (who takes a small fee) that brokers the deal with the ad agencies and you’ll need to start a profile and get selected, but other than that it’s doesn’t appear to be any specific qualifications, other than being alive, to become a walking billboard. From the websites I looked at, being attractive (and famous) also seem to be a help in getting gigs. Also, if you are crazy enough to get a permanent tattoo of an advertisement, profits can be huge. (Information on selling ad space on your body)
And now for the less than ethical and potentially illegal options….
Sell Your Urine
Pee is gold color for a reason (well, actually pee could be yellow for a lot of reasons). Turns out, there is a market for clean, untainted urine samples. With all the doping regulations now placed on athletes and scores of people addicted to drugs and alcohol, there is a high demand for pure urine to help these desperate folks ace their drug tests. Rumor has it that good pee-pee can sell for around $200 but unless you have the right connections, you might find it hard cracking into the urine market.
Escort services are completely legally and depending on where you live, one can make a lot of money renting out their companionship and “charming personalities”, especially if high-profile clients are involved. Legally, escort services can only provide “dates” but what goes on behind closed doors, and is paid for in cash, becomes a grey area. If you decide to skirt the law and start offering “other services” and someone is watching, you may be arrested for prostitution but if you keep it legal and work for the right service you can make some serious extra coin. Either way, unless the client is less than chivalrous, you should get a free meal out of it.
The escort service’s older, naughtier cousin is prostitution, which they say, is the oldest profession in the world. It’s illegal everywhere in the United States except for regulated brothels in Nevada. In some countries it’s perfectly legal and regulated, while in others it is a crime punishable by death. So, if you chose to exchange sex for money, be sure you are in the right place or you could end up in a lot of trouble. Obviously compensation for sexual services varies widely depending on the service being provided, if it’s occurring legally and in what country you are in.
I’ll start by saying this… dabbling in the organ trade is extremely dangerous and highly illegal.The only nation that legally allows the buying and selling of organs is Iran and even there the restrictions are tight but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. If you do decide you want to break the law, risk a back alley surgery in a third world country by a back alley surgeon know that you probably won’t survive the procedure and you won’t be getting paid as much as you think if you do pull through the operation. Prices for organs vary on the Black Market and obviously there isn’t an Official Pricing Guide, so it’s hard to speculate on how much one would make on each organ. But, like all business transactions there are hidden costs and everyone wants to get their cut of the profit: the surgeon, the “organ broker”, and any assistants- they all want to get paid. Don’t forget about the cost to bribe officials to look the other way, the travel costs, and also the recovery fees. If you still are determined to make this happen, most redundant organs in your body you can do without. Just be sure to leave yourself at least one functioning, healthy counterpart. Redundant organs are: kidneys, lungs, eyes, skin, you can even make do with half your liver, but it’s not a good idea and you’ll probably end up dead. (Organ donation, however, is perfectly legal and highly encouraged. Information on organ donation)
The sad fact of the matter is that you are probably worth more dead than you are worth alive, at least when it comes to body parts. When you have a pulse, you are bound legally by rules and regulations and unfortunately you need certain organs to sustain life. After you die however, all bets are off. If your lovely corpse ends up on the Black Market someone is going to be very rich, but it won’t be you or your heirs. (Check out this infographic that shows how we’re worth more dead than alive.)
Other than the more outrageous ways to make a buck off your body, you can forgo getting paid and simply donate your body parts and help humanity.
So the big question is: would you SELL or DONATE your body parts?