For those patients who do not have a special pheresis catheter in place, a temporary pheresis catheter is placed by the interventional radiologist or intensive care physicians on the morning of the collection and is removed after apheresis has been successfully completed. Patients are asked to refrain from eating or drinking prior to the placement of the catheter.
A patient is connected via their pheresis catheter to the apheresis machine (also called a cell separator). Blood is then circulated through the machine where stem cells are collected while the rest of the blood is returned to the patient. Because the size of the apheresis machine is relatively large compared to the patient, often blood is used to prime the apheresis machine. This blood may be donated from community donors or from friends, relatives or parents of the patient. The Blood Donor Centers can help arrange for this donation. This must be done at least three days in advance of the procedure.
During the procedure, many children sleep, read, play video games or watch a movie on a portable DVD player. Parents are welcome to be at the bedside while the procedure is taking place.