Apheresis blood donation


This was a first for me, I gave blood via the apheresis blood donation method. "Apheresis" is Greek for "taking away". The apheresis method takes 2 units of blood platelets and returns the blood plasma. Details:

  1. One has to have an iron count of greater than 40. Mine was 44 today.
  2. The machine that does the process is a Baxter ALYX Component Collection System (picture above)
  3. There is just a single needle in the arm (just like whole blood donation)
  4. The Alyx system has three bags. Bag 1 is the whole blood, bag 2 is the red platelets, and bag 3 is the plasma.
  5. There are 4 cycles each with 2 phases. The first phase draws whole blood into the first collection bag. A centrifuge separates the platelets from the plasma filling bages 2 and 3. The second phase pumps the plasma back into the donor.
  6. For me the process took 23 minutes.
  7. One can view the deep red whole blood being removed, then the light pink, then clear plasma being returned.
  8. When completed: bag 1 is empty (a temporary holder of whole blood); bag 2 is full of red platelets; bag 3 (temporary holder of plasma) is empty.

If in the Twin Cities and interested, visit the Memorial Blood Center to donate. The Wiki article (top link) explains the process. My own explanation is from a layman's perspective, so it may not be completely accurate.


  1. Is it true that you can actually get paid to give blood? I heard on the radio that most major cities have a blood donation center where they'll pay you to give blood.

  2. Our blood center does not pay. There are cookies and pop / juice afterwards.

    (In college I gave blood and was paid. It was a long time ago (1967-71), but they paid me $ 15 a pint. Back then $ 15 went pretty far!)


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