Apheresis and its uses

Apheresis is a process that lets us collect specific blood components. We will then replace these components with similar components from blood donors. Then we either store the removed components for later use or discard them. This will depend on your treatment

We remove blood through your veins for a short time using apheresis. We then put it through an apheresis machine. This machine then separates the blood. 

Uses of Apheresis 

We may use Apheresis to: 

  • Collect donor blood components 
  • Remove parts of the blood that might have disease-provoking elements 
  • Treat blood cancers and a range of other blood disorders

Autologous stem cell collection 

Autologous stem cell collection is the collection of your own cells, and is one of the uses of Apheresis. We collect them before high dose chemotherapy. We then return these cells to you after your chemotherapy. We call this process 'autologous transplant'. We may use Autologous stem cell collection in the treatment of: 

  • Symptomatic myeloma 
  • Amyloidosis 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Germ cell tumour 
  • Sarcoma

Volunteer donor collection for Apheresis

We collect blood components from healthy volunteer donors as part of Apheresis. These components include the following. 

  • Stem cells: these are cells that can divide and form all different types of blood cells. They replenish healthy cells. 
  • Granulocytes: these are white blood cells that fight infection. Neutrophils are the most common granulocytes. 
  • Lymphocytes: these are a type of white blood cell that helps in immune defence. 

Red cell exchange 

Red blood cell exchange is the process where we remove your red blood cells. We then replace your red blood cells with donor red blood cells. We can use red blood cell exchange to treat sickle cell disease. 

Plasma exchange 

Plasma is the liquid part of your blood. During a plasma exchange we remove your own plasma and replace it with a donor’s plasma or a plasma substitute. We can use plasma exchange to treat: 

  • Hyperviscosity syndrome (Waldenstroms macroglobulinaemia and myeloma) 
  • Microangiopathic anaemia (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)) 
  • Myasthenia gravis 
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome 
  • Other severe autoimmune/antibody driven neuropathies


Photopheresis is a process where we remove your blood. We then treat it with a light absorbing substance - which we call photosensitising - as well as ultraviolet light and return it back to you. A photosensitising agent is a drug activated by ultraviolet light. This light treats the diseased components of the blood. We may use Photopheresis to treat: 

  • Graft versus host disease 
  • Cutaneous T cell lymphoma 
  • Sezary syndrome 
  • Solid organ transplant rejection 

Cells for novel therapies as a part of clinical trials 

We can use Apheresis to collect cells and treat patients by novel therapies as a part of clinical trials. These novel therapies include the collection of and treatment with: 

  • CAR-T cells 
  • Dendritic cells 
  • Regenerative medicine

Links related to apheresis

Innovative treatments now possible through the Apheresis Service

Pages related to apheresis

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