Therapeutic Apheresis Care at Norton Children’s

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Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, features the region’s only pediatric Apheresis and Photopheresis Program. It helps with the treatment of leukemias and various other blood disorders, and helps patients fight graft-versus-host disease after stem cell transplants, and rejection after solid organ transplants and other treatments. While the program focuses on children, it also treats adult recipients.

Apheresis and photopheresis therapies

  • Apheresis – white cell depletion: Newly diagnosed leukemia patients whose white blood cell count is thousands of times higher than it should be may receive apheresis. The procedure removes excess white cells, which provides a better start for treatment.
  • Apheresis – red cell depletion and exchange: This is used for patients with a hematologic diagnosis, such as sickle cell anemia. Damaged red cells are removed and replaced with healthy red blood cells.
  • Photopheresis: White cells of a patient’s blood are mixed with a photoactivated medication. The blood is exposed to ultraviolet light, and the treated blood is returned to the patient. This therapy is used to help graft-versus-host disease in stem cell and bone marrow transplant patients, and organ rejection in solid organ transplant recipients. We now use this therapy to treat patients with other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Plasmapheresis: This technique replaces a patient’s blood plasma with plasma from a healthy donor. It is used to treat conditions such as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) or organ rejection after a transplant.
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