Iron replacement therapy in the routine management of blood donors

Department of Transfusion Medicine, Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Transfusion (Impact Factor: 3.23). 12/2011; 52(7):1566-75. DOI: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03488.x
Source: PubMed


Iron depletion or deficiency in blood donors frequently results in deferrals for low hemoglobin (Hb), yet blood centers remain reluctant to dispense iron replacement therapy to donors.
During a 39-month period, 1236 blood donors deferred for a Hb level of less than 12.5 g/dL and 400 nondeferred control donors underwent health history screening and laboratory testing (complete blood counts, iron studies). Iron depletion and deficiency were defined as a ferritin level of 9 to 19 and less than 9 µg/L in females and 18 to 29 and less than 18 µg/L in males. Deferred donors and iron-deficient control donors were given a 60-pack of 325-mg ferrous sulfate tablets and instructed to take one tablet daily. Another 60-pack was dispensed at all subsequent visits.
In the low-Hb group, 30 and 23% of females and 8 and 53% of males had iron depletion or deficiency, respectively, compared with 29 and 10% of females and 18 and 21% of males in the control group. Iron-depleted or -deficient donors taking iron showed normalization of iron-related laboratory parameters, even as they continued to donate. Compliance with oral iron was 68%. Adverse gastrointestinal effects occurred in 21% of donors. The study identified 13 donors with serious medical conditions, including eight with gastrointestinal bleeding. No donors had malignancies or hemochromatosis.
Iron depletion or deficiency was found in 53% of female and 61% of male low-Hb donors and in 39% of female and male control donors. Routine administration of iron replacement therapy is safe and effective and prevents the development of iron depletion and deficiency in blood donors.

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