The Blood Matters Blog ·

Red Blood Cell Apheresis May Add More Benefits for Sickle Cell Patients

Newly published findings out of Duke University Medical Center support the idea that red blood cell exchanges can significantly help sickle cell patients.


New research suggests that sickle cell patients may be able to benefit from red blood cell exchanges more than previously realized.

Research published in the British Journal of Haematology in late January shows that, in addition to helping lower hemoglobin levels, a red blood cell exchange may also help to modulate immune responses and inflammation for patients with sickle cell disease. Excess inflammation is thought to contribute to several sickle cell disease complications.

More: What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Red blood cell exchange, or RBCx, is a type of therapeutic apheresis in which abnormal red blood cells are removed and replaced with an infusion of healthy RBCs. It is most commonly used to treat sickle cell patients. The disease, which currently afflicts roughly 100,000 Americans and disproportionately impacts Black Americans, can cause painful swelling and pain crises, acute respiratory failure, weakened immune system from loss of a spleen, and increased risk of stroke.


How Your Blood Donation Helps

Each year, Our Blood Institute nurses conduct many apheresis therapies, including red blood cell exchanges, in hospitals across Oklahoma. OBI is the largest provider of therapeutic apheresis in the state and actively services 18 hospitals in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas.

Many of these therapies wouldn't be possible without the generosity of healthy donors, so if you have the ability to give, consider scheduling your donation today.