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What is apheresis blood donation?

Q: What is apheresis blood donation? How safe is it? I understand that the donors blood is again injected back to the donor himself after segregating the necessary component from the blood. Does the donor suffer due to the removal of some component of the healthy blood? What precautions should a healthy donor take against contracting AIDS? Who can/cannot go for this type of donation?

A:Apheresis is the removal of one component of blood with return of the remaining components to the donor. It is typically used to collect cell populations from the peripheral blood of healthy donors and patients. The process can either remove cells (cytapheresis) or plasma (plasmapheresis). The removal of different cell fractions depends on the number of cells available, the volume of blood processed and the efficiency of the cell separator used. It is also used as a therapeutic modality to deplete the circulating cell or substance directly responsible for a disease. Automated apheresis is a minimal-risk procedure for normal healthy donors. The most common adverse effect is hypoglycaemia (low blood calcium level) due to the anticoagulant used that removes calcium from blood. It requires no treatment except slowing down the rate of the procedure. No precautions are required and any healthy person can do so.

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