A Special Kind of Blood Donation
Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation by which specific components-platelets, plasma or white blood cells-can be collected.
During an apheresis donation, whole blood is collected from the donor and goes into a machine called a "cell separator". The blood is spun in the machine to separate the components, and a measured amount of the desired component is collected into a special bag. Then the red cells and other components are returned to the donor.
Single Blood is a mixture can provide as many platelets as six whole blood donations. In addition, a platelet transfusion from a single donor greatly reduces the chances of an immune system reaction to the transfusion. Bone marrow transplant, cancer and leukemia patients whose immune systems are already compromised benefit particularly from single donor platelet transfusions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are platelets, and why are they so important?
- Who needs platelets?
- How long does apheresis take?
- Who can give platelets?
- Is apheresis safe for me?
- Are there any side effects during the procedure?
What are platelets, and why are they so important?
Blood is a mixture of red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Platelets are cells that help control bleeding.
Who needs platelets?
Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries and patients undergoing open-heart surgery require platelet transfusion to survive.
How long does apheresis take?
Depending on your weight and height, the actual apheresis donations process will take approximately 70 minutes to two hours. This includes the donor registration, health interview and time for refreshments. You may watch television, watch DVDs, listen to music, or just sit and relax while helping save lives.
Who can give platelets?
Platelet apheresis donors need to meet the requirements for donating blood. You must weigh at least 110 pounds, be at least 16 years old with a signed parental consent form and be in good health.
If you meet the requirements to donate blood, your platelet count will be determined during the mini-physical prior to donation. To be eligible to donate platelets, you cannot have ingested aspirin 36 hours prior to donation.
Is apheresis safe for me?
Yes, apheresis donations are very safe. Each donation is closely supervised by trained staff who observe the donors throughout the process. Only a small percentage of your platelets are collected, so there are no risks of bleeding. Your body will replace the donated platelets within 48 hours. The donation equipment-needle, tubing and collection bags-is sterile and discarded after each donation, making it virtually impossible to contract a disease from the process.
Are there any side effects during the procedure?
The vast majority of apheresis donors experience no discomfort during the collection process. Some feel a slight tingling sensation around the lips and nose during donation. This reaction is caused by the anticoagulant used in the procedure. This can be easily controlled if the donor tells the staff about his or her discomfort. Donors may feel a slight chill during the donation. We'll be happy to provide a blanket to keep you warm.