Education: Apheresis

You trust Indiana Blood Center to make the most of your very personal gift. Many of our donors have the potential to give an apheresis donation. This means you have an opportunity to maximize your donation and have a greater impact on patients in need.

What is apheresis?

Apheresis is an automated process by which whole blood is collected and separated into its individual components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The specified product is collected and the remaining components are returned to you. By using apheresis, Indiana Blood Center is able to customize your donation to patients’ specific needs.

CaptureDo the double and share your rare

Donors with blood types O, A-, or B- are eligible for a double red cell apheresis donation. Donors with O+ and O- blood types are particularly encouraged to donate via apheresis, as type O- blood can be given to all patients. Red cell donors are eligible to give through the apheresis process every 112 days.

Maximize your donation power

Capture1Donors with all blood types are encouraged to donate via a plateletapheresis donation. Those with A+ blood (the second most common blood type) are especially encouraged. The most powerful part of A+ blood is found in the platelets, which can be donated every two weeks, up to 24 times a year.

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Meet Sneha. 16 and healthy because of donors like you.

Meet Sneha Dave, an energetic 16-year-old junior at Center Grove High School. She enjoys playing tennis and volunteering. Sneha is able to do what she loves thanks to the generosity of Indiana Blood Center donors.


Sneha Dave preparing to receive her transfusion

At age six, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic and incurable inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine.

The medication she received to treat her symptoms caused pancytopenia, a disorder that reduces the number of red and white cells and platelets.

Sneha’s hemoglobin levels continued to drop, causing her to feel weak and impaired.

“I couldn’t even walk up the stairs by myself. I was so weak.”

At age 12, Sneha received her first blood transfusion at Riley Hospital for Children.

Sneha Dave School Photo

Sneha Dave today

With just one transfusion, her hemoglobin levels were back to normal.“It was incredible. I had so much more energy,” said Sneha. “The transfusion was a transformation.”

A blood transfusion is the number one procedure performed in a hospital, and Sneha is one of thousands of hospital patients who benefit from this lifesaving treatment.

Today, she pays it forward. In her spare time, she volunteers with organizations like Riley Children’s Foundation, all with the motivation of spreading awareness about ulcerative colitis.

“Look at what you have instead of what you don’t,” advises Sneha. “Donate blood. It’s what saved my life.”

To learn more about colitis and Crohn’s disease, visit Sneha’s website at www.crohnsandcolitisteentimes.com.

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Preparing students for purposeful lives

It was 1977 when Donna Gustafson joined Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as a staff member in the student life area. Along with her regular work duties came the responsibility for coordinating campus blood drives, a role she didn’t take for a granted.

donna and staff

Donna and Indiana Blood Center collections staff

38 years and 28,222 units of blood later, Donna has made her mark.

“It’s the students,” said Donna. “Giving back is ingrained in the culture at Rose. It’s part of the holistic approach we take. We encourage students to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” and attempt to prepare them to be good stewards of the community,” she remarked.

Every 56 days, Rose-Hulman hosts a blood drive on campus because of Donna’s dedication to curbside community service and Indiana Blood Center’s lifesaving mission.


Donna’s retirement cake

Wrangling college students to give an hour of time every few months is no easy feat. It takes creativity. “Competitions between residence halls with a pizza party for the winner works well,” said Donna. “But it’s the personal approach that works every time.”

With bittersweet emotions, Donna will retire on June 30. Her established success as a blood drive coordinator will live on, both through the philanthropic student body and her well-groomed successor, Kyle Rhodes. Kyle is a Rose-Hulman alumnus who helped coordinate campus blood drives as a student.

To Donna, Kyle, Rose administrators and students, it’s because of your commitment to our mission that makes more tomorrows possible for countless hospital patients. For that, we thank you.

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Don Lasher 2 “Cancer patients don’t get a day off.” This is the phrase Don Lasher keeps in the back of his mind. It is what keeps him motivated.

Don gave his first pint with Indiana Blood Center in 1991 and has not stopped since. It wasn’t long before a blood technician explained how he could help even more patients by donating platelets. That was all the motivation he needed to make the switch from whole blood to platelets.

Don is a regular “two on Tuesday” donor, stopping by the Carmel donor center every other week on his way home from work to give a double platelet. “It’s like clockwork,” said Susan Purichia, donor center specialist for Indiana Blood Center. In early April Susan scheduled Don’s routine appointment and realized Tuesday, April 28, 2015 was going to be anything but routine.

“I opened his donor record and saw the number 574 next to his lifetime donations.” She began hand counting in disbelief. “I got to 400 and just stopped,” said Susan. “We don’t even have gallon pins that go that high.”

Don intends to achieve 800 donations before he “retires” from service to others. A thumbnail calculation equates to 100 gallons and several thousand patients impacted by his generosity.

That’s one amazing anniversary.

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It’s about What’s In Me, Not What’s In It for Me

Andrea Fagan, Indiana Blood Center’s Director of PR and Marketing, shares her insights on donating granulocytes.

WIIFM. That classic question: what’s in it for me? On a freezing Friday in January, I sat in a chair in the Indiana Blood Center donor center at 3450 N. Meridian with a small group of dedicated donors who never ask that question. We never think it even when asked to give a very special donation called a granulocyte.

Granulocyte. Rolls off the tongue like sand, doesn’t it? Kinda grainy. It’s a particular kind of white blood cell transfused into patients to help them fight infection. The good people of my organization were planning to take some of mine and give them to an eight year old bone marrow recipient with a life-threatening infection. This is why we blood donors ignore WIIFM, by the way. So I perused the NIH website and Wikipedia, talked to the clinical services staff down the hall, and compulsively shared my new knowledge with friends and family. This “granulocyte” thingy was going to be quite an adventure.

Granulocyte donors take a 24 hour course of steroids, mind their aspirin intake, hydrate, and keep patients in their prayers. Then we are hooked up to a “centrifuge” (holy cow, more big words) and receive a needle in the right arm and another in the left. I’m a platelet donor (one needle!) and think apheresis is cool (you can look that up). It’s high tech. I’d never done a “double needle” procedure before and was fairly giddy with the technical terms and science.

Giving granulocytes is a very special request because of the fragile nature of the recipient’s immune system. Many patients need several days of transfusions so donors are located and scheduled to cover the entire admission window. A donor’s blood must match the recipient’s type AND be free of Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Cells can’t be shaken, dropped, stirred, or disturbed. The bag containing the granulocytes is stat-tested, hand-packed, and rushed to the hospital—expedited to the patient and transfused within an hour or two of donation. Pretty heady stuff—the kind of emergency response that causes adrenaline surges.

The donation takes about three hours, during which donor center staff are calm and collected. Adrenaline wears off and is replaced by a humble quietness. I brought along my Tau and San Damiano crosses—symbols of the healing power of Saint Francis of Assisi. As the small bag (seems too small! Is the cell count adequate?) was removed from the hook and readied for its journey, I told the staff about the significance of the crosses and said a little prayer in my head. Please let what is in me be enough.

On that day, it was.

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Thanks For Giving

In honor of this upcoming Thanksgiving week we want to emphasize how important our generous donors are to us. Thanks to thousands of Hoosiers who support our cause throughout the year, lives are saved each and every day.

It was around this time last year that a past donor, John McKenzie, expressed to us his passion for saving lives. While he still supports the power of donating, John is no longer able to give blood due to health issues. Luckily for those in need of transfusions, he is spreading the word on the importance of donating. In 2013, John made a simple Thanksgiving request to his children, encouraging each of them to give up an hour of their time to donate for those who can’t. Here is the handwritten letter John shared with his children asking for their help.

1 letter

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We thank John and his family for their lifesaving efforts. Accept John’s challenge and make an appointment to donate blood today.


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41 Years and Counting

All of our donors love supporting our lifesaving cause, especially Greg.

Greg receiver's a certificate in honor of having completed 400 total donations.

Greg receives a certificate in honor of having completed 400 total donations.

Meet Greg McDermott, a local Indianapolis donor who’s been giving since 1973. He tells it like it is. Read his story below.

“I started donating in the fall 1973 at a mobile blood drive held at my school in honor of severe mentally disabled students. I donated whole blood for couple years after this because it was so easy and quick.

Later on, I read about the apheresis process in an article published in what used to be the Star magazine section of the Indianapolis Star. It intrigued me and I learned about how much more a single donation is multiplied through the use of the apheresis process.

The last 40+ years that I have donated, many have asked, “why do I continue to donate?” It is really very simple, how can anyone say no to saving a life? If you are able bodied and in good health, sharing that most precious gift of health with others is in my mind a no-brainer! The benefit to the donors is the incredible feeling of giving of yourself, which is when you truly give.”

– Greg McDermott

We thank Greg for sharing his inspiring and encouraging story. To follow Greg’s lead and Raise Your Sleeve, visit donorpoint.org to schedule an appointment.

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