My name is Lilith Maclin and if you suffer from a digestive disorder, you can find a wealth of information about this type of medical condition in my blog. Three years ago, my husband was having severe stomach cramps and his doctor told him that he had a digestive disorder called ulcerative colitis. After my husband was diagnosed, I did thorough research to learn how to control and manage this disorder. We kept track of everything that my husband ate and when a certain food caused a flare-up of his condition, he eliminated that food from his diet. By learning all we could about this digestive disorder, my husband has been able to live pain free. If you want more information about this disorder and how to manage it, you can find it here by reading my blog.
Blood has several components. Everyone knows about red blood cells because these cells are what give the blood its obvious color. There are also white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Each of these may be extracted from a single collection of blood. If, for any reason, a doctor tells you that white blood cells must be pulled from your blood, you should know that there are two methods to extracting just white blood cells and returning all of the other components of blood to your body. There are also situations and reasons for doing one over the other.
Full Donation and Separation in a Lab
This is the easiest method, of course. You make an appointment to make a donation of blood. Two to three pints may be extracted in order to separate enough white blood cells to create leukopaks, or bags of white blood cells and a little plasma only. The blood collected is placed into test tubes, then spun through a centrifuge to remove and separate the different cells.
All of the red cells and water from the blood ends up on top of the white cells, plasma and platelets. The red layer is extracted, rebagged, and then connected to an IV directly into the same vein from which the whole blood was drawn. (The IV used to collect the whole blood remains in your arm while extraction takes place.) Further separation of white blood cells, plasma, and platelets may be part of the plan in the lab. If it is, the platelets may be returned to your body to help with healing and clotting, while the white cells and clear plasma fill a leukopak bag.
Via a Plasma Extraction Machine
If you have ever donated plasma, these complex machines spend about two hours collecting whole blood from your arm, removing red cells, and bagging everything else while the red cells are pumped back into your vein in your arm. For some people, the incentive to earn cash for their plasma is enough. For you, your doctor is trying to thin your blood and harvest white cells for a specific purpose. You may have to repeat the process with a plasma extraction machine a few times before your doctor has what he/she needs.
Reasons for Making White Blood Cell Collections
You may need more healthy white cells to fight off infection during and after surgery. The best option is to have your own white blood cells pumped back into your body so that rejection does not occur from donor blood products. It also aids in lowering the rejection of organ transplants. In patients with leukemia, there are so many white cells that the blood becomes more like a syrup and less like a liquid, causing a lot of side health problems. Removing some of the white blood cells prior to cancer treatments can help you recover when treatments are over.