A national plasma center chain, offering cash for plasma, opened a branch in downtown Provo Tuesday.

Los Angeles-based Alpha Therapeutic Corp. pays plasma donors for donations as often as twice weekly.Unlike blood donors, plasma donors do not have to wait eight weeks before the next donation. The body takes two days to restore removed plasma. That quick restoration enables a donor to give one to 11/2 pints of plasma twice during one week.

The Provo plasma center reimburses each donor $8 for the first visit in a week and $10 for the second visit in the same week. When a donor has given plasma eight times during one month, the center offers an additional $20.

Alpha Therapeutics is not in competition with the Red Cross, Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, or other blood donation organizations, said Jennetta Peterson, regional director of Alpha Therapeutics.

"That has never been a problem," she said. "Blood donors and plasma donors are two completely different types of people."

Peterson, who has been involved in the plasma center business for 22 years, oversees centers in Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Yakima, Wash.

Officials from Utah Valley Regional Medical Center agree that the plasma center will not reduce the number of blood donors. "We don't have any concern," said Tom Helton, laboratory manager at UVRMC. "We don't think it will affect our donors at all."

The plasma process involves taking the blood out of the donor, removing the plasma from the blood and returning the rest of the donor's blood to his body.

All red and white blood cells are restored, so donors should feel no weakness, said to Peterson.

The plasma is then shipped to Alpha Therapeutic's headquarters in Los Angeles, and is distributed from there.

Business is already constant. One employee said Tuesday that the Provo center was booked solid through Friday.

The center is located at 245 W. First North.