Stem Cell Harvest

Woke up at 3:30 and made myself a cup of tea. The nurse arrived at about 6:30 with my morning supply of adult diapers 😳


Dr Faddeev arrived with the machine, called an apheresis machine or cell separator, that is used to harvest the blood containing the stem cells. The machine is hooked up to the catheter in your neck. Your blood circulates twice through the machine and the process takes 5 and 1/2 hours. You can eat and drink but cannot get out of bed or use your muscles to turn over.


How does it work...should you be interested...

The machine contains a centrifuge that spins your blood at high speed - makes a noise like a washing machine spinning. The spinning separates your blood into layers.


The layer with the stem cells is selected and collected into a sterile bag by the machine - some of your plasma (pale yellow liquid part of blood but minus the blood cells) is also collected.  All of your remaining blood is then returned to your body.  At any one time only about 200mls of blood is spinning in the centrifuge. All the kits used in the machine containing the lines and bag are disposable, so no blood actually comes in contact with the inside of the machine.


Once the blood leaves your body it clots in a matter of time so an anti-clotting drug is added.  The blood returning to your body contains some of this anticoagulant with causes your calcium levels to drop resulting in a metallic taste in your mouth, tingling around your lips, pressure feeling on your chest. But the buzzer is next to you should you feel that these reactions are too severe. 


So what happened today:

✅ diaper on

✅ Glenda for company

✅ movie playing

✅ machine buzzing and going about its business

✅ call buzzer at the ready

✅ pain meds for sore hips administered 


Just over 3 hours into the collection the machine starts buzzing and stops turning. Nurse runs in, phones Dr N who is here in seconds. The process for today is complete, there is a clot in the plasma bag and the machine... clever little thing... detected it and shut down the process.  Bummer so only 50% of the required stem cells collected today and I get hooked up again tomorrow. 


2nd time lucky..let’s hope the clots stay away and don’t come out to play 😳

Machine doing its thing until it ‘hit’ a clot