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Apheresis Programs

Apheresis is a process that allows us to separate blood into its components during the donation process. With this method, we can better match our collections to the needs of our hospitals.


Red Cell Apheresis:

What is Red Cell Apheresis?

    Red Cell Apheresis is a new technology that allows Heartland Blood Centers to collect only red cells using an apheresis process.  Over 63% of all needed transfusion units are red cells.  Red Cell  Apheresis separates red cells and plasma while your blood is being drawn, unlike whole blood donations where blood components are separated later in the process.  Our patients' medical conditions and critical needs determine the blood products they require. By donating through apheresis we can better help match our donations collected to the needs of our hospitals.

How does Red Cell Apheresis Compare to Whole Blood Donations?

    Red Cell Apheresis selectively separates the red cells as the blood is drawn and immediately returns the rest to the donor.  Red Cell Apheresis donations use a cell separator to draw the blood and provides volume replacement (saline solution) to replace the volume of blood lost by the donor, unlike whole blood that uses gravity to draw the blood and does not replace any volume to the donor.  Volume replacement should help the donor feel more comfortable after the procedure. Red Cell Apheresis uses a smaller needle than Whole Blood. Red Cell Apheresis donations result in two full therapeutic doses, two concentrated red cell units.  Whole blood donations will be converted into one full therapeutic dose of red cells and a partial dose of red cells and a partial dose of platelets and plasma.  Despite two transfusable doses being collected, total volume of blood loss to the donor is still slightly less than volume removed during a regular whole blood donation.
How long will this procedure take?
    The donation procedure will take about 35 - 45 minutes using a cell separator.  The entire visit to the Blood Center will only take about 1 hour total.

Is the procedure dangerous?

    Just like a whole blood donation, there is no risk of contracting any disease by donating red cell apheresis.  The risks associated with this procedure are reduced compared to the ones that you would encounter in a traditional whole blood donation or a routine platelet apheresis procedure because volume replacement is given with each procedure.  The difference is that the Red Cell Apheresis retains the red cells and returns the plasma, platelets and white cells to the donors.

Why should I donate this way instead of giving Whole Blood the traditional way?

    You will be able to help two patients because your donation will result in two full therapeutic doses for patients (two units of red cells). You may be more comfortable than with any other blood donation because the disposable unit for this procedure uses a smaller needle. Donations collected by this procedure will be standardized allowing doctors and medical staff to treat patients more effectively. Blood centers will be able to draw selectively donor components based on patient needs. Blood centers will be able to react more quickly to possible emergencies or crisis.
What are the requirements to donate Two Unit Red Cell Apheresis?
  • Donors should be in good health
  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Have a minimum hematocrit of 40%
  • Males must weigh at least 130 lbs. and be at least 5'1" in height
  • Females must weigh a minimum of 150 lbs. and be at least 5'5" in height
  • Specific medical conditions or medications should be discussed with blood collection staff.

How often can I donate?

    Unlike whole blood donations, you are eligible to donate only every 112 days, which is double the deferral period for a regular whole blood donation. Is the screening process different from that of the screening process for whole blood donors? No.  The medical review is the same for both. Can I get someone else's blood with this procedure? No, each donation is performed using a sterile, individual use, disposable kit that fits in the cell separator.  Each disposable kit is only used once.  After the procedure, the disposable kit is thrown away.  Your blood only comes in contact with the sterile, individual use disposable.  You cannot get a disease from donating this way.

Platelet Apheresis

You are considering volunteering to offer the gift of life, a blood donation.  Do you know there is another way for you to help patients with bone marrow transplants, cancer, leukemia and other fatal blood disorders?  During treatment for their illness, these patients are susceptible to infection and bleeding because malignant and healthy cells are destroyed.  Transfusion of platelets is needed to control these complications.  You may give these patients a second chance by becoming an apheresis blood donor.

What is apheresis? 

Apheresis is the process of removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets, and returning the remaining components, such as red blood cells and plasma, to the donor.  This process allows more of one particular part of the blood to be collected than could be separated from a unit of whole blood.

 What happens during the procedure? 

During an apheresis procedure, blood will be removed from the arm, as in a regular blood donation.  It will be channeled through sterile, single use tubing set to an automated system.  This automated system separates and collects the most needed components and then safely returns the remaining blood components back to you.  Depending on your platelet count and the amount of product taken, the process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

How many times may I donate my platelets cells by apheresis? 

Each of us has a supply of platelets in the blood, and as many as half can be lost without ill effects.  These components are replaced by the body within forty-eight hours.  This is why you may give platelets more often than whole blood.  (Whole blood collection is permissible only every eight weeks.)  Apheresis donors can give up to 24 times per year.

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