Get access

The health implications of low hemoglobin deferral in infrequent blood donors

Authors

  • Kyle Annen,

    1. Medical Sciences and Blood Research Institutes, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    2. Heartland Blood Center, Aurora, Illinois
    3. Department of Pathology, McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Meghan Delaney,

    1. Puget Sound Blood Center, Seattle, Washington
    2. Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Dave Leitch,

    1. Puget Sound Blood Center, Seattle, Washington
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alan E. Mast

    Corresponding author
    1. Medical Sciences and Blood Research Institutes, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    2. Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Address reprint requests to: Alan E. Mast, Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, PO Box 2178, Milwaukee, WI 53201; e-mail: alan.mast@bcw.edu.

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Background

The causes of anemia in infrequent blood donors deferred for low hemoglobin (Hb) are not well known. We sought to assess this via surveys of infrequent, nonmenstruating deferred blood donors at two institutions, BloodCenter of Wisconsin and Puget Sound Blood Center.

Study Design and Methods

Men at least 18 years of age and women at least 50 years of age who were deferred for low Hb (≤12.5 g/dL), had not more than one donation in the year prior to deferral, and did not successfully donate in the 3 months after their deferral were surveyed.

Results

The total response rate was 380 donors or 34% of those contacted. Of the respondents, 141 had sought medical advice about their low Hb. Of these, 90 were confirmed to have anemia and 13 reported serious disease requiring medical intervention, including mantle cell lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Conclusions

A small but concerning number of infrequent blood donors deferred for low Hb have an underlying illness that is severe and would benefit from medical attention. Donors deferred for low Hb who have a high risk for serious underlying illness should be provided targeted educational information advising them to seek additional medical care.

Ancillary