Apheresis is the continuous separation of blood by centrifugation.
Blood is separated by force into three separate components with varying densities; these in turn are either collected or exchanged. Apheresis can either be donor autologous (stem cell source is the recipient himself/herself) or allogenic (stem cell source is from someone other than the recipient) in the case of collecting stem cells; or therapeutic based, where harmful components in the blood are removed. Blood is separated by specific gravity into three components: Plasma, White Blood Cells and Platelets, and Red Blood Cells.
The apheresis program began in 1991 and performs leukopheresis (removal of white blood cells), plasmapheresis (removal of plasma) and erythrocytapheresis (removal of red blood cells).
Three types of leukopheresis procedures are performed. The most common type is hematopoietic peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection (autologous and allogenic). Bone marrow processing and white blood cell (WBC) depletion are also performed. Download pamphlet on Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection
The process of removing red blood cells in circulation and replacing it with donor red blood cell is known as red cell exchange. Download pamphlet on Red Cell Exchange
Plasma Exchange or "Plex" as it is sometimes referred to is commonly used to treat autoimmune or immune mediated diseases and disorders. In most cases, 4-6 treatments are required to achieve a response. Plasma exchange removes circulating plasma components such as immunoglobulins, albumin, fibrinogen and other clotting factors, urea, creatinine, and electrolytes. It can also remove alloantibodies, autoimmune antibodies, antigen-antibody complexes, plasma proteins, metabolic waste products and plasma-bound drugs or poisons. These antibodies can attack healthy cells or tissue. Other diseases can cause too much protein to be made, which can slow down the blood flow. Some diseases/illnesses such as Myasthenia gravis, Guillian Barre, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, Goodpasture's and Wegener's syndrome, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome, auto-immune hemolytic anemia, and sepsis with multi organ failure are treated with Plex. Download pamphlet on Plasma ExchangeThe Apheresis Team
Dr. Caron Strahlendorf, MB. BCh, FCP, FRCPC