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Plasma Exchange Procedures
Plasma exchange, or plasmapheresis, is a procedure that removes plasma from the blood and replaces it with new plasma fluid. This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains about plasma exchange and how it is used in immune-mediated neurological conditions. It also describes what to expect when your child comes to GOSH for treatment.Plasma is part of blood. It is the liquid that supports the circulation of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Plasma is mainly water and contains dissolved minerals, proteins and antibodies. If blood is allowed to separate, the plasma will look yellow and the rest of the blood will look red.
In plasma exchange, blood is removed from the patient (a small amount at a time) and separated so that the plasma can be discarded. The red and white blood cells and the platelets are returned to the patient, along with the replacement fluid. An anti-coagulant is added to the blood to stop it clotting. Throughout the procedure, the blood is pumped around your child’s system as usual by their heart. Only a small amount is out of the body at any one time.
Plasma exchange is always done in hospital and a nurse or technician who is trained in the procedure will stay with your child throughout. Before the procedure begins, your child’s doctor will ask you to sign a form giving permission for your child to have a plasma exchange.