Complications of donor apheresis


  • Jeffrey L. Winters

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Division of Transfusion Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
    • Mayo Clinic Division of Transfusion Medicine, 200 1st Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905
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  • Presented at the World Apheresis Association 10th Congress hosted by the American Society for Apheresis at its 25th Annual Meeting, May 5–8, 2004, Miami Beach, Florida.


A decreasing blood donor pool in the presence of increasing blood transfusion demands has resulted in the need to maximally utilize each blood donor. This has led to a trend in the increasing use of automated blood collections. While apheresis donation shares many reactions and injuries with whole blood donation, because of the differences, unique complications also exist. Overall, evidence in the literature suggests that the frequency of reactions to apheresis donation is less than that seen in whole blood donation, though the risk of reactions requiring hospitalization is substantially greater. The most common apheresis-specific reaction is hypocalcemia due to citrate anticoagulation, which, while usually mild, has the potential for severely injuring the donor. Other reactions to apheresis donation are uncommon (e.g., hypotension) or rare (e.g., air embolism). More worrisome, and in need of additional study, are the long-term effects of apheresis donation. Recent evidence suggests that repeated apheresis platelet donations may adversely effect thrombopoiesis as well as bone mineralization. Granulocyte donation has also been implicated in unexpected long-term consequences. J. Clin. Apheresis © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.