Apheresis Program

The apheresis program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland is one of the largest pediatric apheresis programs in the state of California. Our scientists have helped pioneered apheresis procedures. Apheresis may sound intimidating, but it's just a term for minimally-invasive procedures. Apheresis is a method of separating blood into its various components to remove one part of the blood that may have a problem and return the healthy portions of the blood back to the body. There are different types of apheresis procedures named for the part of blood that is removed or treated. Apheresis is also used to collect stem cells from blood for stem cell transplant.

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Why Families Choose Us

The apheresis facilities at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland are safe and calming environments for children of all ages. Our team of hematology and oncology specialists is devoted to giving children the comfort and care they need during this difficult time, even while in a sterile facility. Our apheresis operators are highly skilled and specialize in working with children.

Cutting-Edge Apheresis Technology

  • We perform 300-500 erythocytapheresis procedures every year, making the program one of the largest in the United States. Erythocytapheresis is a special type of red blood cell transfusion where part of the patient's red blood cells can be removed and exchanged for normal, healthy blood. This is primarily done for patients with sickle cell disease and has many advantages compared to regular blood transfusions.
  • Plasmapheresis is a type of apheresis procedure usually performed in patients with auto-immune diseases in order to remove antibodies in the plasma (liquid) part of the blood that may be causing the disease.
  • Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP) treats the white blood cell component of blood with medications to help treat graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a potentially life-threatening complication after a stem cell transplant. The greatest potential benefit of ECP is that it can be a safe and effective alternative to the drugs and steroids that suppress the immune system that are typically used to treat GVHD.