Why Thousands of Low-Income Americans 'Donate' Their Blood Plasma: Part 5

"I donate specifically for the money because I work a minimum wage job," said David, who donates his plasma.
4:25 | 01/14/17

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Transcript for Why Thousands of Low-Income Americans 'Donate' Their Blood Plasma: Part 5
And try Olay Luminous Evens tone for radiant, glowing skin. This is a transaction for money. There are 500 plasma centers in the U.S. And almost all are foreign owned. They extract plasma from this blood to make drugs that help treat leukemia, and for transplant patients. And these companies have turned the United States into what has been called the OPEC of plasma, American donors providing 94% of the paid plasma used around the world. They are a kind of branded army, not of addicts, but people, including full-time workers who are just unable to make ends meet. I donate specifically for the money because I work a minimum wage job. As a cashier and a stocker. Basically it's for bills, make ends meet. Reporter: These donors are paid about $30 to $40 each visit. It is a $19.7 billion industry and growing. Do you work part time or full time? Full time. I'm married with two kids, so anything you can do for a little bit of extra cash. Donating is easier than you might think. Simply relax, watch TV, or enjoy our free wi-fi in a clean and friendly environment. Right arm, I use Friday. Other I use Sunday. I switch up every time. And it's a 21-gauge needle, so it's pretty thick. Reporter: When we first meet a donor named William Harris, he works full time at burger king. Some nights when the shelter is full, he sleeps in a storage closet. His room is a chair, surrounded by spiders. By his side, a well-read self help book about success. How you get ahead in America. I love that book. Reporter: And you still believe that hard work is gonna get you there? Yes, no other way. Reporter: So why is it that these foreign companies recruit their donors in the united States? We learned that most of their home countries have banned the practice of paying money for plasma. There's one more person we met walking to give plasma twice a week. His name is Gaylord cade. You're actually helping somebody else out too. Reporter: When we meet him, he is working two jobs, one at a grocery, one in fast food, but says he's donating because his daughter has a birthday. He needs $7.50 to buy a bathing suit, and money for a cake. He doesn't want his kids to know how he's getting it. I try to take off my bandage before I get home. Reporter: We went to the apartment unit he is renting. We met his 6-year-old son Eric who tells us how he feels about the dad working so hard to support their family. A giant proud, where the giant's head is all the way to outer space and in heaven, past heaven, and giant, giant, giant, giant, giant. I'm trying to say it a lot. My daddy working on getting a car. Reporter: Gaylord, who has had a tough life growing up, says he knows there are a lot of people who have a lot more than he does. You work 40 hours a week, right? You probably work more than that, right? I work a lot, I work a lot. But you work hard too. Right. And you're American, I'm American. We both work hard and the difference is, I imagine you can take care of yourself pretty good and probably your grandkids and things of that sort, too. Reporter: Gaylord says he doesn't resent other people's good fortune, he just wonders if anyone sees the struggle all around him. I'm grateful for any and everything that god sends my way. However, people will pass you by, they don't know what you're going through. There's poverty, there's a lot of poverty around here. Reporter: The kind that leads a dad to give his blood for his daughter's birthday smile. You like it, baby? Yeah. How old are you today? 3. Going swimming? Yeah.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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