How many of you would like to get your hands on a million dollars or more? Silly question? It’s human nature to want more than what we have. That’s what leads to many wars and power-hungry politicians and world leaders.
That’s also why so many get-rich-quick schemes have bilked millions of dollars from people, who usually cannot afford it, who desire to get rich quick and improve their lifestyle. Pyramid schemes with promises of making people wealthy still thrive with only a few at the top getting rich and many being discouraged after shelling out hundreds of dollars.
What would it mean to you to learn that you had a rare trait that was worth millions of dollars to researchers and pharmaceutical companies?
That’s what happened to Ted Slavin, whose story was told in a best-selling and now movie – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Many people make ends meet by selling their blood plasma. Depending on where one lives, you can make anywhere between $40 to $100 a week, just selling your blood. But what if you found that someone was willing to pay $10 for every milliliter of your blood?
Doesn’t sound like much? If you are a blood donor, a person gives about a pint of blood at a time. Let’s do some simple math. There are 29.573 milliliters in an ounce and there are 16 ounces to a pint. At $10 a milliliter, an ounce of blood would be worth about $295.73 which means a pint of blood would be worth about $4,731.68. On average, a person can donate blood 24 times a year, so at $4,731 a donation, that could tally up to about $113,544 a year or about $1.02 million in just 9 years. Don’t know about you, but that’s a whole lot more than I make.
So, what made Ted Slavin’s blood so valuable?
Slavin was born with hemophilia – the inability of the blood to clot. As he grew into an adult, he received numerous blood transfusions to help replace blood lost and to help provide the vital clotting factors he so desperately needed. A big negative about all of the blood transfusions was that Slavin was exposed to hepatitis B on different occasions. However, he never contracted the illness. When his doctor examined a sample of Slavin’s blood, he discovered that it was loaded with y-shaped proteins that acted as antibodies against the hepatitis B virus.
Slavin’s blood filled with the hepatitis B antibodies was quickly sought after by pharmaceutical companies. They wanted the antibodies to study and replicate in hopes of producing a treatment and/or vaccine to ward off hepatitis B. At the time, Slavin needed money, like most of us and the pharmaceutical companies wanted his blood. So, Slavin began selling his blood for to the companies for $10 a milliliter. Soon, selling his blood became his sole income source, but it more than provided for all of his needs.
The vast majority of us probably don’t house some special anti-body or chemical in our bodies that is worth a fortune, but then again, one never knows. There are hundreds of different viruses and bacteria out there that attack the human body. What if your blood was found to contain a wealth of antibodies against something important, like what happened with Ted Slavin? Kind of puts a different meaning to blood money, doesn’t it?