Leukapheresis donation information

What is it?

Blood consists of four components – red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets.

The process of leukapheresis removes white blood cells from the whole blood and returns the other components back to the donor. White blood cells purpose is to defend the body against disease and infection.
Therefore, leukapheresis donation may help researchers with ongoing advancements in medical treatment, discover scientific breakthroughs and potentially develop cures for some diseases.


The eligibility requirements to take part in leukapheresis are the same as for donating whole blood:
https://www.researchdonors.co.uk/donation-process/eligibility-requirements, however the minimum weight for donors is 65kg.


To donate white blood cells, you will be booked in for 3 separate appointments:

Appointment 1
Will include preliminary blood collection, completion of consent form and health screening questionnaire, photographic ID check, registered GP documented, vein assessment and baseline observations taken – such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
Please allow 1 hour for this.

Appointment 2
Will include secondary blood collection.
Please allow 1 hour for this.

Appointment 3
Finger prick blood test to check your haemoglobin and hematocrit, then proceed to the leukapheresis procedure.
Average procedure time 4 hours (maximum 8 hours).

Collection Process

A needle is placed into a vein in each arm – one for blood access and one for blood return. An apheresis machine is used to draw blood from the access vein, through the apheresis machine where the components are separated out and the white cells collected, then the red blood cells, plasma and platelets are returned to the donor through the return vein in the other arm.

An anticoagulant is used throughout the procedure to stop your blood clotting within the apheresis machine. This means a small amount of the anticoagulant will be returned in your blood.

Risks associated with leukapheresis are extremely rare but can include interaction with the anticoagulant or problems with the venepuncture sites. You will be continually monitored for signs of negative reactions by our trained staff both during and after the procedure.


White blood cells are regenerated much quicker than red blood cells therefore you can undergo leukapheresis every 2 to 4 weeks up to a maximum of 12 times per year.

The procedure can take on average 3-4 hours to complete but can in some instances take longer, therefore you will need to commit to attending for the day. Televisions are provided for entertainment, however you are welcome to bring in your iPad/laptop/written work to occupy your

You will be reimbursed for your time for all appointments once they are completed, providing all pre-screening assessments are passed and the leukapheresis procedure takes place.


For your 1st & 2nd appointments (pre-screening) will be £45.00. Reimbursement for the 3rd appointment (leukapheresis donation) will be £150.

So, whole blood donation or leukapheresis?

To allow time for your cells to regenerate and for you to remain well, you cannot do both types of donation at the same time.

If you are a regular whole blood donor and would like to become a leukapheresis donor you will have to wait a minimum of 4 weeks from your last donation. Likewise, if you are a leukapheresis donor and would like to switch back to being a whole blood donor you will also have to wait 4 weeks from your last donation.

For further information or to book an appointment please speak to a member of the team.