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A Special Blood Donation

The word "apheresis" (pronounced Ay-fur-EE-sis) comes from a Greek term meaning to take away or to separate. When you give a regular blood donation at the blood center, your blood is separated into its components -- red cells, platelets, and plasma. Each component meets a different and very important medical need of a waiting patient.

When you make a donation through the apheresis process, you give one specific component of the blood, most often platelets.

Platelets are cell fragments in the blood that enable blood to clot. Cancer and chemotherapy treatments can affect the body's ability to produce platelets. Patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia, those receiving chemotherapy or undergoing bone marrow transplants often rely on platelets donated by healthy volunteers to prevent life-threatening bleeding.

Once donated, this living gift must be transfused to a patient within five days. To assure that platelets are always available, and that each patient will receive the platelets that are the best match, platelet donations are needed every day. On occasion, donors are also needed to give plasma or infection-fighting white cells (called granulocytes) through the apheresis process.

Blood Donation vs. Platelet Donation

Although a small amount of platelets are present in a whole blood donation, it takes approximately five whole blood donations to yield as many platelets as a single apheresis donation. Enough platelets are given in one apheresis donation to help one or even two hospital patients.

How to Give This Special Gift

First, call us at 1-800-GIVE LIFE and talk with one of our trained apheresis staff. They will schedule an appointment for you.  We ask that you set aside three hours for the whole process -- registration, health history, the donation and refreshments. You can schedule your appointment for early morning, evening or even for on the weekend, whatever is most convenient.
Free parking is available at all apheresis centers.


Apheresis donations are safe. You cannot get AIDS, or any other disease, from making an apheresis donation.

Does it hurt? Only for a second. Like a regular blood donation, after the initial insertion of the needle, there is no discomfort.

It is safe to donate platelets, granulocytes and plasma. Healthy people have an ample supply of platelets and your body begins to replace the donated platelets immediately.


One apheresis donation provides as many platelets as five whole blood donations would provide. Your donation will be tissue or HLA-typed (Human Leukocyte Antigen), and carefully matched to a patient. This is the same typing which is used to match bone marrow donors with patients.