What is Apheresis?

Learn about the process of stem cell donation

If I match with a patient, how do I actually donate?

What is Apheresis?

The process of extracting peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) is called apheresis. Apheresis is similar to plasma donation and is an easier, less complex procedure than bone marrow donation. It takes about 3-4 hours. Most donors read a book or watch a movie while donating, and report that their biggest problem was boredom!

During apheresis, some of your blood is drawn and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the PBSCs and safely returns the remaining blood components back to you.

What are the risks?

Apheresis is a safe procedure with a few possible side effects. You may have discomfort at the needle site and occasional light-headedness during treatment. A nurse will check on you regularly during treatment and a physician will be onsite.

You may experience headaches, or bone or muscle aches, for several days before PBSC donation. These are side effects of the filgrastim injections and will go away shortly after your donation.

While recovery times vary depending on the individual, most PBSC donors report a full recovery within 7 to 10 days of donation. We will follow up with you until you report a full recovery.

More statistics on recovery after donation: 22% of donors fully recover 2 days after donation, 53% of donors fully recover 7 days after donation, and 93% of donors fully recover 30 days after donation. The median time to full recovery for donation is a week.

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