A 20 year review of health and health care presents the multiple challenges faced by South Africans. Health and poverty is highlighted with 45% of population living on approximately US$ 2 per day and 10 million living on less than US$ 1 per day. Widening disparities in health care provision between public and private sector hospital services exist. The South African population includes the largest number of people living with HIV infection/AIDS of any country in the world, with a 70% estimate of 7.5 million people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy. The South African National Blood Service provides a mixed model therapeutic apheresis service including mobile service and fixed-site therapeutic apheresis and an apheresis collection of hematopoietic stem cell (HPC-A) service. Therapeutic apheresis modalities offered by SANBS include plasmapheresis, red cell exchange, leukocyte and platelet reduction. In addition, collection of plasma, thrombocytes, mononuclear cells including CD34+ cells (HPCs) and granulocytes by apheresis for plasma and cellular therapies, and customised apheresis products for research purposes is offered. An operational database for the period 2013 to 2020 was reviewed to characterise the SANBS’s mixed therapeutic apheresis service and HPC-A service from 2013 to 2020 in terms of patient numbers, patient demographics, patient procedures, therapeutic apheresis indication or diagnosis, therapeutic apheresis modality, hospital service type, and the American Society for Apheresis (ASFA) category of diagnosis.
A retrospective review of therapeutic apheresis patients referred to SANBS characterising patient numbers, patient demographics, patient procedures, therapeutic apheresis indication or diagnosis, therapeutic apheresis modality (Linz, 2017), hospital service type, and the ASFA category of diagnosis (Padmanabhan et al., 2019) for the period 01 January 2013 to 31 December 2020 was completed. Data is obtained from a SANBS operational routinely utilised to record patient procedure data. Patient procedure data is manually recorded by apheresis nurses and indexed on to the operational database, with both processes audited. The review period is a convenience sample. Storage of the database and access of the operational database is in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (Government Gazette, 2013). Therapeutic apheresis modalities analysed include Plasmapheresis, Red Cell Exchange, Leukopheresis, Thrombocytapheresis, Lymphocyte collection, Granulocyte collection, Haematopoietic stem cell collection by apheresis and customised apheresis products for research purposes. Customised apheresis products for research purposes is excluded from this review. Descriptive statistics is used.
For the review period, 2,485 unique patients with 120 unique indications as recorded by referring clinicians received 13,518 procedures involving 7 therapeutic apheresis modalities at 78 hospitals (21 public sector and 57 private sector) and at 3 SANBS blood donor centres in 7 provinces of South Africa. The age range of patients serviced is 4 months to 90 years (median = 39.5 years) (figure 1), 91% by procedure count was for patients 21 years of age or older, 62% were female, with 10,783 (79.6%) procedures performed in public sector hospitals. In all patients, the most common indications was plasmapheresis for thrombotic thromobocytopaenic purpura (52.5% of cumulative procedures), HPC-A for multiple myeloma (7.86%) and Antibody-mediated kidney transplant rejection (4.90%). Plasmapheresis was the most common therapeutic apheresis modality used (82.5% of cumulative procedures) followed by HPC-A (13.7%) and leukoreduction (3.39%). A range of indications for plasmapheresis (n = 65) and HPC-A (n = 41) were observed. Red cell exchange procedures was performed for patients with severe malaria and sickle cell disease indications. For leukoreduction indications, all patients were adults managed in public sector facilities and all were symptomatic. The most common indications were Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Multiple Myeloma. A pooled, total white cell count average of 457 × 10/L (range 141-689 × 10/L) prior to first procedure. Despite complex challenges for a national mixed model service, successful patient outcomes in emergent indications such as TTP (Louw et al., 2018; Swart et al., 2019) and engraftment post HPC-A in HSCT in multiple centres (Glatt, personal communication) are reported.
The review confirms that apheresis medicine is increasingly used in South Africa in patients in both public and private sector, with the most common modalities being plasmapheresis, HPC-A and leukoreduction. Patients with HIV-associated TTP is the most commonly referred patient in both paediatric and adult patients and this is anticipated to continue. A growing HSCT transplant network capacity in South Africa is augmented through the mixed model mobile and fixed-site therapeutic apheresis services, including a mobile HPC-A service. The increasing number of HPC-A is a trend towards increasing numbers of patients support to HSCT for both adults and paediatric patients in private and public sector hospitals.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.