Apheresis refers to the removal of whole blood from the vein of a patient or donor.

What is apheresis?What is apheresis?

Apheresis is a procedure that involves removing whole blood from the vein of a patient or donor and processing it using an apheresis machine so that one or more specific blood components can be removed.

The procedure is painless and takes approximately two hours, which is only slightly longer than a typical blood donation.

How does apheresis work?How does apheresis work?

Apheresis is used to treat certain medical conditions, such as blood and neurological disorders and some cancers, by a procedure known as plasma exchange, where part of the blood that might contain disease-provoking elements is removed.

Apheresis also allows for donor collection of specific blood components such as plasma, platelet cells and red blood cells, which can treat patients with many different disorders.

Possible side effects of apheresisSide effects

Apheresis may cause minor side effects that usually resolve quickly, which are similar to the effects you would experience from a normal blood donation. Side effects may include pain or bruising at the removal site or feeling dizzy and lightheaded.

Serious complications are rare in donors but may occur when apheresis is used to treat patients with serious blood disorders and cancers. Complications can include:

  • Bleeding, or increased risk of bleeding
  • Infection, or increased risk of infection
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramping
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