Monthly Archives: March 2010

Definition of Apheresis:


Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): The process of removing a specific component from blood and returning the remaining components to the donor, in order to collect more of one particular part of the blood than could be separated from a unit of whole blood. Also called hemapheresis or pheresis*.

*Pheresis: Procedure in which the blood is filtered, separated, and a portion retained, with the remainder being returned to the individual.

There are various types of pheresis. In leukapheresis, the leukocytes (white blood cells) are removed. In plateletpheresis, the thrombocytes (blood platelets) are removed. And in plasmapheresis, the liquid part of the blood (the plasma) is removed.

From the Greek “aphairesis” meaning withdrawal.

If you want to learn more about the apheresis procedure and what it does, you can find out more at the Blood Center of NJ site.  Please note there are two more links towards the bottom of the page for “learning more about the procedure” and “who needs your donation”.  You will be surprised at what you didn’t know.

Meet "the Machine"

Did you know that Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, formerly known as “Rahway Hospital”, serves Seattle’s Best coffee?  Tastes so good, especially since I broke my coffee pot a few days ago and have been boiling my coffee, you know, like in the good old days.  It wasn’t bad, but lots of grinds guaranteed in every cup.

I’ve been thinking about how blessed I am, being able to donate platelets.  It comforts me to know that this old, diseased body can still be good for something in it’s brokenness.  Well, more than that.  I’m saving a life with every donation and that’s good to think about.  This appointment also got me out of the house today, and let me tell you, the sun is HOT out there.  What a beautiful day!

I thought I’d take some time to talk a little bit about my experiences that deviated from the norm during these past few years.  Now, when you undergo the apheresis procedure, you can’t just lay there and fall asleep, though I’ve been seriously tempted.  When I slide into that reclining position, my body relaxes to the point of slipping into slumber.  Well, I did just that on one such occasion and all hell broke loose.  You have an active role during this procedure and you definitely need to pay attention.  There are two parts to this:

  1. Withdrawal of your blood
  2. Separation of components needed
  3. Returning the blood to your body

The nurse inserts the same kind of needle like if you were giving whole blood and gives you a spongeball.  When the machine starts to withdraw blood,you need to squeeze that ball the whole time it’s on the “withdraw”.   You can even watch a window on the machine as your blood is gathered and running through the machine.  Next, the machine signals the “return”, when your blood is returned to your body through the same port that the blood came out of.  During this time, you can relax your hand because that squeezing creates a pressure, the same kind when nurses take your blood pressure and you need to squeeze your hand.  One the withdraw, it makes it easier for the blood to leave your body; but when your blood is returning, the squeezing makes it harder for it to come back and it’s sort of running against the current, so to speak.  Well, when I fell asleep, for however briefly, my pressure was too low and that screwed up the works.  Alarms went off and the technician had to adjust the machine to accommodate the change in pressure and I had to pump that ball fast and furious to get those alarms to stop.  In the end, I was okay, but falling asleep is not really a good thing to do when you’re doing this.  I’ve learned my lesson.  One thing I’ve got to say is that I was pretty disappointed to learn that I can’t knit or crochet while doing the apheresis thang.

Every time I do this, it’s different.  Usually I am able to do a triple donation, but sometimes it’s a double.  This just means that according to your body, you may be able to donate either one, two, or three units of donations, s-a-f-e-l-y.  That is, at no risk to you or the platelet level needed in your body to stay healthy.

Oh boy, it’s almost time for me to get in there.  I’ll report more later or tomorrow.

Platelets Going Out!


Just a quick note to say that I’ve been successfully donating double and triple units of platelets. Getting ready for an appointment today, as well; and hope to write about it when I get home while still fresh in my mind.

I also want to thank those who are steady commentators on my platelet posts.  Several of them in 2006 and 2007, and I am so grateful for your interest.  I do notice that I seriously need to tag my posts and will do at least that when I get home, and hopefully I’ll feel up to it.  No reason not to, but sometimes donating platelets takes more out of you than you would think.  Nothing that a nap couldn’t help.

Anyway, I’ve got a few errands to run today beforehand, so I’ll be cutting this short.

Have a great day!

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