Apheresis is a special kind of automated donation that allows whole blood to be withdrawn from the donor and separated into its component parts via a cell separator. All components, except for the platelets, are returned to the donor. This procedure takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Your body replaces platelets within 48-72 hours.
Platelets are essential for blood clotting and often used by patients with bleeding disorders such as leukemia and aplastic anemia. Apheresis products or components are also used for cancer patients, patients with blood disorders, trauma and burn victims, organ transplant and heart surgeries.
You can donate platelets every 14 days. If you have donated whole blood, you must wait at least 14 days before you can donate platelets.
Platelet donors should avoid aspirin and/or aspirin-containing products 48 hours prior to donation.
HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigen. HLA antibodies are proteins found on cells in your body and are unique for each person. HLA antigens are developed in some women during pregnancy, regardless if the pregnancy resulted in the birth of a baby. Donations also need to be tested after each subsequent pregnancy. They are not harmful and do not pose a risk to the person who made them. However, if transfused into another person they can cause a rare but life-threatening complication in the transfusion recipient called Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI).
If you are interested in donating platelets and have been pregnant before, ask your phlebotomist to send a sample of your blood to be tested for the HLA antibodies. You do not need to do anything if you test positive for HLA, but unfortunately you will no longer be eligible to donate platelets. You will remain eligible to donate whole blood and we encourage you to because those donations are just as important to the patients we serve!