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: 3.57). 12/2011; 52(7):1566-75. DOI: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03488.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    ABSTRACT: Here we describe the design and management of Indiana Blood Center's 10-year Iron For Women program, an ongoing community blood center–based program with continual program and donor management providing iron supplements to healthy women blood donors. Donor iron supplementation has typically been limited to research study protocols, for a defined period, with the associated resources and funding. The results of studies have supported the utility of iron supplementation: iron supplementation will enhance dietary iron for increased gastrointestinal absorption triggered as a normal homeostatic response to blood loss, thereby providing a suitable dietary iron source in the event the donor's usual diet lacks sufficient iron. Despite proven results, blood centers have been reluctant to adopt the practice due to barriers such as donor selection, ensuring the appropriateness of iron supplementation relative to the health of the donor, supplement costs, provision logistics, and program management costs. We present here how we designed our program and why it is in the Blood Center's interest to help willing women participate in volunteer blood donation by attempting to mitigate associated iron loss.
    Transfusion 09/2014; 54(11). DOI:10.1111/trf.12803 · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Iron deficiency is a significant cause of deferral in people wishing to donate blood. If iron removed from the body through blood donation is not replaced, then donors may become iron deficient. All donors are screened at each visit for low haemoglobin (Hb) levels. However, some deferred blood donors do not return to donate. Deferred first-time donors are even less likely to return. Interventions that reduce the risk of provoking iron deficiency and anaemia in blood donors will therefore increase the number of blood donations. Currently, iron supplementation for blood donors is not a standard of care in many blood services. A systematic review is required to answer specific questions regarding the efficacy and safety of iron supplementation in blood donors. Objectives To assess the efficacy and safety of iron supplementation to reduce deferral, iron deficiency and/or anaemia in blood donors. Search methods We ran the search on 18 November 2013. We searched Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, PubMed, MEDLINE (OvidSP), EMBASE (OvidSP), CINAHL (EBSCO Host) and six other databases. We also searched clinical trials registers and screened guidelines reference lists. Selection criteria Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing iron supplementation versus placebo or control, oral versus parenteral iron supplementation, iron supplementation versus iron-rich food supplements, and different doses, treatment durations and preparations of iron supplementation in healthy blood donors. Autologous blood donors were excluded. Data collection and analysis We combined data using random-effects meta-analyses. We evaluated heterogeneity using the I-2 statistic; we explored considerable heterogeneity (I-2 > 75%) in subgroup analyses. We carried out sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of trial quality on the results. Main results Thirty RCTs (4704 participants) met the eligibility criteria, including 19 comparisons of iron supplementation and placebo or control; one comparison of oral and parenteral iron supplementation; four comparisons of different doses of iron supplementation; one comparison of different treatment durations of iron supplementation; and 12 comparisons of different iron supplementation preparations. Many studies were of low or uncertain methodological quality and therefore at high or uncertain risk of bias. We therefore rated the quality of the evidence for our outcomes as moderate. There was a statistically significant reduction in deferral due to low haemoglobin in donors who received iron supplementation compared with donors who received no iron supplementation, both at the first donation visit after commencement of iron supplementation (risk ratio (RR) 0.34; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.21 to 0.55; four studies; 1194 participants; P value < 0.0001) and at subsequent donations (RR 0.25; 95% CI 0.15 to 0.41; three studies; 793 participants; P value < 0.00001). Supplementation also resulted in significantly higher haemoglobin levels (mean difference (MD) 2.36 g/L; 95% CI 0.06 to 4.66; eight studies; 847 participants, P value = 0.04), and iron stores, including serum ferritin (MD 13.98 ng/mL; 95% CI 8.92 to 19.03; five studies; 640 participants; P value < 0.00001) and transferrin saturation (MD 3.91%; 95% CI 2.02 to 5.80; four studies; 344 participants; P value < 0.0001) prior to further donation. The differences were maintained after subsequent donation(s). Adverse effects were widely reported and were more frequent in donors who received iron supplementation (RR 1.60; 95% CI 1.23 to 2.07; four studies; 1748 participants; P value = 0.0005). Adverse effects included constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and taste disturbances, and some participants stopped treatment due to side effects. Authors' conclusions There is moderate quality evidence that rates of donor deferral due to low haemoglobin are considerably less in those taking iron supplements compared with those without iron supplementation, both at the first donation visit and at subsequent donation. Iron-supplemented donors also show elevated haemoglobin and iron stores. These beneficial effects are balanced by more frequent adverse events in donors who receive iron supplementation than in those who do not; this is likely to limit acceptability and compliance. The long-term effects of iron supplementation without measurement of iron stores are unknown. These considerations are likely to preclude widespread use of iron supplementation by tablets. Blood services may consider targeted use of supplementation in those at greatest risk of iron deficiency, personalised donation intervals and providing dietary advice.
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