What is Apheresis?
Apheresis, which means "to remove," is a safe, effective treatment for many conditions. During apheresis, a component of the blood is removed while the rest of the blood components are returned to you.
About the Apheresis Team
The apheresis team in the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong Memorial Hospital consists of the physician director and specialty nurses. The apheresis team performs over 1,000 treatments each year, both inpatient and outpatient procedures. We are the only apheresis program in Rochester, NY, apart from the American Red Cross, and we are the only program in Rochester that performs photopheresis. Our Stem Cell collection service is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
What Happens During an Apheresis Treatment?
Patients referred for apheresis have a brief, initial consultation with the Apheresis Director. Based on the consultation, the nurses perform the procedure appropriate for your situation. They monitor you before, during, and after the procedure.
During an apheresis treatment, blood is removed from your body and goes into the apheresis machine where it is separated into its various components, including:
Depending on the reason for apheresis, one of these components is collected or discarded and the other components are returned to your body. See conditions treated with apheresis
In many situations, apheresis is an ongoing treatment, so you and the nurses get to know each other. The apheresis nurses are concerned for your health and are attentive to your needs. They are compassionate, caring, and committed, just as are all the Cancer Center staff.
How Does Blood Leave and Re-enter the Body?
There are two ways that blood leaves and re-enters your body for apheresis treatment:
IV Lines - IV lines are placed in both arms. One line carries blood from the body to the machine, while the other is used to return blood components from the machine back to the body. Usually, IV lines require that the arms remain very still during the procedure.
Catheter - A catheter is placed in a large vein by a radiologist and remains there until the treatment is finished. The catheter has two to three lumens or channels. One channel is used for blood going from your body to the apheresis machine and the other channel is used to return components to your body. If you have a catheter inserted, you will require homecare nurses. They will instruct you and monitor your catheter insertion site.
Calm and Comfortable Environment
Our Apheresis unit is located on the first floor of the new Cancer Center (near the Infusion Center). The room is calm and comfortable. Procedures are performed with you on a stretcher bed. The area has lots of windows and music is playing or television is on. There is space for a visitor to sit with you while you have your apheresis procedure. Seasonal decorations are usually on the walls and windows. You may eat during your procedure. Snacks are available to you.
For inpatients who require more intensive nursing support or for procedures done outside of the usual hours, procedures are done in your room. Pediatric procedures are done in the Pediatrics Treatment Center or in the patient's room.