Platelets are blood cells that help control bleeding. When a blood vessel is
damaged, platelets collect at the site of the injury and temporarily repair the tear.
Platelets then activate substances in plasma which form a clot and allow the wound to
Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special kind of
blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as platelets.
During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component are returned to the
Why is Blood Separated?
Different patients need different types of blood
components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit
is separated into platelets,
red cells and plasma in our laboratory.
Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole
blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion.
However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion --
that's six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.
Who Needs Platelets?
Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet
transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims
of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet
transfusions to survive.
Because platelets can be stored for only five days, the
need for platelet donations is vast and continuous.
Platelet transfusions are needed each year by thousands of
patients like these:
|Heart surgery patient
|Organ transplant patient
|Bone marrow transplant
Who Can be an Apheresis Donor?
If you meet the requirements for
donating blood, you probably can give platelets. Apheresis donors must:
- be at least 16 years old
- be in good health
- weigh at least 110 pounds
- not have taken aspirin or products containing aspirin 48
hours prior to donation.
Are Apheresis Donations Safe?
Yes. Each donation is closely supervised throughout the
procedure by trained staff. A small percentage of your platelets are collected, so there
is no risk of bleeding problems. Your body will replace the donated platelets within 72
hours. The donation equipment (needle, tubing, collection bags) are sterile and discarded
after every donation, making it virtually impossible to contract a disease from the
How Does the Procedure Work?
Blood is drawn from your arm through sterile tubing into a
centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood to separate the components, which vary in
weight and density. A port is opened along the spinning tubing at the level containing
platelets. These platelets are drawn up into a collection bag, while the
remaining blood components (red cells and
plasma) are returned to you through your other arm.
How Long Does it Take?
Depending on your weight and height, the apheresis donation
process will take approximately 70 minutes to two hours. You may watch TV or
movies, listen to music, or simply sit back and relax while helping to save a life.
How Can I Become an Apheresis Donor?
If you live in east central Illinois, call Community Blood
Services of Illinois Apheresis Program at 217-367-2202 or 1-800-217-GIVE for more
information or to make an appointment.
� 2006 Community Blood Services of Illinois All rights reserved.