Apheresis Program of BC: A new name for a life-saving service

Apheresis Program Members

Some Apheresis Program Members: L-R: Erin Ames, Victoria LeBas, Dr Gayatri Sreenivasan, Stefanie Minnich

Apheresis is a process in which the blood of a donor or patient is passed through an apparatus that separates out one particular constituent and returns the remainder to the circulation. The first unit in BC over 20 years ago was stored in a mobile trailer in front of the emergency department of Vancouver General Hospital. Since that time, the apheresis service has expanded considerably and evolved into a comprehensive program dedicated to high quality patient and donor care, along with multidisciplinary educational activities and research collaborations with, among others, the CBR and the Canadian Blood Services.

The Apheresis Program of British Columbia is now located in much more comfortable and modern space at the Vancouver General Hospital in the Krall Centre. The Medical Director is Dr. Gayatri Sreenivasan, and the unit is staffed by four physicians, apheresis nurses and two biomedical technologists. It is changing its name from the “Cell Separator Unit” to better reflect the nature of the services provided.

An average of 150 apheresis and 250 hematology daycare procedures / treatments are performed each month. This includes plasma exchange, red cell exchange, extracorporeal photopheresis, all peripheral blood stem cell collections for the Leukemia/ Bone Marrow Transplant program and from unrelated registry donors for other transplant programs, mononuclear cell collections for therapeutic T cell infusions and red cell depletion of ABO incompatible bone marrows. The Apheresis Program of BC is the only facility in the province that provides cytoreduction procedures and is the designated provincial facility for urgent apheresis procedures with 24/7 physician and nurse coverage.

If you want to know more, please contact Dr. Sreenivasan at (604) 875-4952 or gsreeniv@bccancer.bc.ca

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