Skip to Main Content

Apheresis Explained

What is Apheresis?

Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation that allows whole blood to be withdrawn from a donor and separated into its component parts with all but the needed component being returned to the donor.

The Process

During your donation, blood is drawn from one arm and channeled through a sterile, single-use tubing set to an automated system. The automated system separates and collects the components most currently needed, and safely returns the remaining blood components back to you.

Components of Blood

Platelets are essential for blood clotting. They are regularly needed to support cancer therapy, open-heart surgery, blood disorders and organ transplants. Platelets must be transfused within 5 days; requiring the supply to be constantly replenished. Donors can give platelets up to 24 times per year. Platelets are not type sensitive.

Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. They are most needed after significant blood loss through trauma, surgery or anemia. A red blood cell donation is typically transfused within 5 days, so the need for this component is ongoing. Red blood cells can be donated every 56 days. Blood type O- is the universal red blood cell donor.

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood containing critical clotting factors. Plasma is used to treat burn victims, patients with certain bleeding disorders and for plasma exchanges. Plasma can be donated every 4 weeks. Blood type AB is the universal plasma donor.

Why is Blood Separated?

Whole blood is made of several components including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Each component has a special use. Apheresis procedures are used to collect platelets, plasma and red blood cells. Each unit of whole blood contains only two tablespoons of platelet concentrate. Six to eight regular whole-blood donations would be needed to supply enough platelets for one patient.

Why Patients Need Your Apheresis

Donation... By knowing local hospital's needs and using Apheresis donations, we are able to tailor your donation to patients needs. The patient benefits because they are receiving your life-saving blood. It decreases the likelihood of transfusion reactions that can happen when receiving blood products from multiple donors. It also allows donors to donate up to 24 times per year.

Awards & Accreditations

ISO logo

The first hospital laboratory in the United States to achieve Accreditation to the gold standard ISO-15189 Quality and Competence international standard in both Clinical and Anatomic Pathology.

Learn more

Other Awards & Accreditations

AABB Accredited

american association of blood banks

Avera McKennan Laboratory is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).

FACT Accredited

fact logo

Avera McKennan Laboratory is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).