Apheresis therapy is used for treating serious blood infections and diseases. This involves removing the blood from the body, processing out key components and returning the remaining blood to the patient.
Three forms of apheresis therapy are offered, depending on patient diagnosis:
- Therapeutic Plasma Exchange: This method of apheresis therapy is used to remove plasma from the blood of children with diseases and disorders that leave poisons and other damaging substances in the blood supply. Therapeutic plasma exchange is often used for children with meningitis, Guillain Barre, Hemolyitc Uremic Syndrome and Lupus Erythematosus. After removal of the damaged plasma, the child receives new plasma.
- Red Cell Exchange: Commonly used to treat patients with Sickle Cell Disease, malaria and other diseases that attack the red blood cells, this treatment involves removal of the damaged red cells, after which the patient receives healthy red cells.
- Leukopheresis: This apheresis therapy procedure is used for cancer patients. One type —used for children with cancer diseases such as lymphoma— involves removal of the abnormally large number of white cells associated with the disease. The second type of leukopheresis allows for collection of stem cells from the blood, which are later returned to a cancer patient during a bone marrow transplant.