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Getting More Out of Every Blood Donation

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NEBH has added new technology to our donor services center, which is allowing patients to receive blood from fewer donors, and donors to give less frequently and feel better after donating. Traditionally when donating blood, a donor will provide one pint of blood that is then separated into its therapeutic components-one transfusion dose of red blood cells and a partial dose of platelets and plasma. With the new Alyx Component Collection System, eligible donors can now provide two red cell units in one donation or one red cell and a jumbo plasma as needed.

The Need for Red Blood Cells

The Alyx Component Collection System can collect transfusion-ready doses of red blood cells or red blood cells and plasma from a single donation by retaining only the needed components, and returning the remaining components to the donor. Red blood cells are the most frequently used blood component, and are needed by almost every type of patient requiring transfusion. Plasma and red blood cells are not something that can be manufactured – they can only come from donors. Many of our patients at NEBH require transfusion as a part of an overall treatment plan for various medical conditions or as supportive treatment during or after surgery.

How the Technology Works

Alyx uses apheresis, a process which is to withdraw blood from a donor, remove one or more blood components (plasma, platelets, or white blood cells), and transfuse the remaining blood back into the donor. With Alyx, rather than collecting the blood directly into a blood bag, as in a traditional donation, the donor’s blood first flows into the Alyx machine, which separates the blood’s components. During Double Red  Cell Collection, red blood cells are collected in a blood bag, and the remaining components are safely returned to the donor. The donor also receives a small amount of sterile saline fluid to make up for the blood volume loss. With all platelets and plasma returned to the donor, along with the saline, donors don’t lose the liquid portion of their blood and may feel more hydrated after donating.

There are specific federally mandated criteria (i.e. height, weight) that are performed to determine whether or not a donor is eligible for either the Alyx or traditional whole blood donation. The trained technologist who performs these screenings will give you the options of which type of donation is right for you.

If you are interested in becoming a blood donor, or to see if you are eligible to donate using Alyx, please contact the Blood Donor Room at 617-754-5210.

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