American Red Cross

Northern Ohio
Blood Services

Frequently Asked Questions About Apheresis
If your question about Apheresis is not listed, please email us

Why must I make an appointment in advance?
Appointments are made for apheresis donors to assure efficient use of everyone’s time. The advantage to you is that your health history, the donation, and some time in the canteen area will be a scheduled two and a half hours for each donation. Equipment, staff and parking have been reserved JUST FOR YOU.
The advantage to you is your arrival will be greeted with the most expedient service we can provide. The advantage to us is that we can adequately staff the donor centers providing the most cost-effective service to the medical community. A missed appointment is a loss to everyone. Please inform the Apheresis Scheduling Office at least 24 hours in advance if you are unable to keep your appointment. Remember: bring your Red Cross blood donor card OR positive identification with you to every apheresis appointment.

Who staffs the Apheresis Department?
All Apheresis Collection Staff are experienced in whole blood collection and have specialized training in apheresis and the use of the sophisticated blood cell separating equipment.

What are the appointment times available to apheresis donors?
Appointment availability will vary from donor center to donor center. All three centers are open six days a week, and on all holidays except Christmas. Specific appointment dates and times are readily available, and will be discussed with you in detail when you are ready to make your first donation.
Is making an Apheresis donation safe?
Yes. All Apheresis Donor Centers use specialized equipment in which a sterile and disposable collection kit is placed. You and your blood components only come in contact with a collection kit. Your blood never comes in contact with another donor’s blood or with the collection machinery. There is absolutely no risk of contracting AIDS through apheresis donations.
Is there a risk of donating too many platelets?
No. Although you will be donating more platelets through apheresis, you are not at risk of donating too many. Our first and foremost consideration is you health and safety. We will check your platelet count routinely to be certain that it is in the normal range. Healthy blood donors have literally hundreds of thousands of platelets circulating through their blood. The body rapidly manufactures additional platelets as those in circulation are used. Most apheresis donors will replace donated platelets in about a day or two. During that interval the donor is at no additional risk.
Will any specialized testing be done?
Yes. In addition to all the tests normally performed on blood donations, special testing will be done to determine your platelet compatibility with a patient needing them, such as typing for Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLAs).
When I donate platelets, I sometimes feel a little tingling sensation. Why?
The anticoagulant used in the apheresis donation process will temporarily bind with the calcium in your blood. As your body adjusts to this temporary binding, you may feel some tingling. Donors are highly encouraged to inform a staff person if this sensation occurs. Staff may adjust the equipment, and/or supply a calcium supplement to help ease the tingling. Additionally, increasing your calcium intake a day or two prior to donation may help you feel more comfortable.

*Try this: Eat a diet rich in calcium. Low fat dairy products are a great source of calcium. Enjoy your favorite yogurt or low fat cottage cheese. If you can spare the extra calories, why not indulge in a dish of ice cream or a milk shake?

Other sources of calcium are leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

Many fruit drinks such as orange juice are enriched with calcium. Check the label next time you shop.

I have been deferred from donating blood because my iron count was not high enough. Why?
All blood banks are required to follow guidelines listed in the Food and Drug Administration's Code of Federal Regulations. Quality standards for blood donations include testing a donor's hematocrit (HCT) to assure eligibility, limiting HCTs to be no lower than 38 to donate blood or blood products. This restriction is not only for the safety of the donor, but also for the quality of the blood product the American Red Cross is providing to a patient in need. Many influences could cause lower HCT's. If this is a recurring problem, the American Red Cross suggests individuals should consult with their personal physician.

*Try this: Eat a diet rich in iron a day or two prior to your appointment to prepare for each donation. Foods such as raisins, cashews, whole wheat bread, and beef are great sources for extra iron.


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The information on this website is for general informational use only.
For specific questions regarding medical or paternity issues, please contact your physician.

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