Nima Wangdi

Blood donors at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) will no longer have to worry about how long it could take to replenish blood loss and other possible repercussions.

The hospital now has apheresis machine. Apheresis is a medical technology in which the blood of a person is passed through an apparatus that separates just the required constituent and returns the rest to the circulation.

How does apheresis donation actually work?

The process involves apheresis machine or a device that receives blood from donor; separates it into components; directs one or more targeted components into a collection bag; and returns the rest of the blood to the donor.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo and World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative Dr Rui Paolo De Jesus inaugurated the machine on June 14, coinciding with the world blood donor day.

Blood has four components—plasma, red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells.

Blood Bank In-charge of the JDWNRH, Dr Mahrukh Getshen, said that the process would take longer but reduce patients’ exposure to multiple donors and increase safety. “This is because one patient can be benefited from one donor.”

She said the whole process could take anywhere between 90 minutes and 120 minutes.

For the extraction of 450ml blood, the normal procedure takes just half an hour.

“With this, a donor can also donate twice a week,” Dr Mahrukh Getshen said.

Since the hospital faces the challenge of meeting platelet requirements, the machine would be used to extract platelets, she said. The hospital today requires an average of 300 platelet donors per month.

The machine was procured at Nu 3.4 Million with support from WHO.