In apheresis, a medical professional filters a patient's blood through a machine that separates out a component of the blood and returns the rest back to the body. American medical technologist Herb Cullis invented the apheresis machine in 1972. Apheresis can collect certain components of donor blood. It can also remove disease-causing components. It can treat leukostasis, hyperviscosity syndrome, myasthemia gravis, elevated platelet levels in leukemia, and familial hypercholesterolemia. There are several types of apheresis for both donors and patients.


1. LDL Apheresis

LDL apheresis is a procedure for individuals with extremely high LDL (bad) cholesterol levels that diet, exercise, and medication have not managed. During an LDL apheresis procedure, the machine separates blood cells and plasma. Specialized filters take the LDL cholesterol out of the plasma, and return the filtered blood to the body. One LDL apheresis treatment can remove 60-70% of bad cholesterol from a person's blood.

LDL apheresis chrupka / Getty Images

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