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Why sex, previous pregnancy of blood donors do not increase mortality risk of transfused patients, by study | The Guardian Nigeria News

Why sex, previous pregnancy of blood donors do not increase mortality risk of transfused patients, by study | The Guardian Nigeria News
Written by Publishing Team

•WHO says COVID-19 pandemic caused significant drop in voluntary unpaid blood donations in Africa
A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden sheds new light on the question of whether the sex and previous pregnancy of blood donors affects survival in patients who receive red blood cell transfusions.

According to the study, which is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, neither of these factors has such an effect, after accounting for the lower hemoglobin levels in blood from women.

Previous studies have returned conflicting results as to how the sex of the donor affects survivability in the recipient following the transfusion of red blood cells. Some studies have indicated higher mortality in patients who have received red blood cells from women, in men who have received red blood cells from women who have been pregnant, and in sex-mismatched transfusions. Other studies, however, have not reported such correlations.

Researchers have now further explored this question from Karolinska Institutet in a register study of almost 370,000 patients in Sweden who received a red blood cell transfusion for the first time between 2010 and 2018.

The aim of the study was to see how the sex and pervious pregnancy status of the donor affects survival in the recipient within two years from transfusion. It also looked at how the risk of needing more transfusions differed between patients who received red blood cells from female and male donors. Blood from women on average contains less hemoglobin than blood from men, meaning that more transfusions might be required to obtain the desired level of haemoglobin in a recipient.

The study demonstrates that the median value for haemoglobin was lower in the female blood donors (135g/l) than the male (149 g/l) and that patients who received blood from a woman had a 12 per cent higher risk of requiring another transfusion within 24 hours than if the donor was a man. However, this sex difference was eliminated when adjusting for the donors’ hemoglobin levels, which the researchers say was an expected effect that had not been factored into previous studies.

“When we take into account the lower hemoglobin levels in blood from women, we see no difference in survival among patients who received a blood transfusion from women compared with from men, regardless of how many times the female donors had been pregnant and of the patients ‘ sex and age. Differences in hemoglobin levels are a source of error that previous studies have not taken into consideration and that might explain the conflicting results that has been seen previously.”

Data for the study was drawn from national population, health and blood donor registries.

The study also shows that donor sex is naturally randomly distributed in the patient material since no regard is paid to the sex and previous pregnancies of the donors by the blood donor centers when supplying blood. According to the researchers, this means that more far-reaching conclusions be drawn.

“It means that our results can be interpreted as if our study was a randomized controlled study, and that we can draw conclusions on causality,” says Zhao.

“We’ll now continue developing methods for studying causal relationships in transfusion epidemiology using observational data, on things like donor characteristics and how blood is handled. There’s still much we don’t know about blood transfusion and its effects.”

One limitation is that it was not possible to separately study transfusions where the red blood cells had not undergone leukoreduction (the filtering out of white blood cells), since this procedure has been standard in Sweden since the 1990s. The researchers therefore add a caveat about generalizing the conclusions to erythrocyte concentrates that have not undergone leukoreduction, which, however, is relatively uncommon nowadays.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, on the occasion of the World Blood Donor Day said as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, voluntary unpaid blood donations dropped significantly. Moeti said Malawi, for example, registered a 46 per cent decrease in donations.

On June 14 every year, the global community marks World Blood Donor Day to focus on the gift of life from voluntary unpaid blood donors around the world. The WHO in the African Region has joined the call for more people to become regular blood donors.

Moeti said: “This year’s theme, Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives, highlights the critical role of voluntary blood donations in saving lives, and enhancing community solidarity and social cohesion. Donating just one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three patients.”

Moeti said compared to other Regions globally, the African Region sees a disproportionate number of conditions requiring donor blood, impacting as many as seven million patients every year. Examples include haemorrhage associated with pregnancy and childbirth, severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition, bone marrow and inherited blood disorders, trauma and accidents, as well as man-made and natural disasters.

According to the WHO chief, while the need for donor blood is universal, access for everyone who needs it is not. In the African Region, demand regularly outstrips supply, negatively impacting timely access for all patients who need safe and quality-assured blood to save their lives.

Moeti said countries across the African Region have worked hard to improve blood donation frequency, and the situation is showing signs of stabilizing. Blood transfusion services in many countries reached out to blood donors through public awareness campaigns, transporting donors from and to their homes, using digital platforms and establishing call centres.

Moeti said the situation remains challenging, and it is exacerbated by issues such as staff shortages and limited funding from governments and partners organizations for effective blood donor education, recruitment, and retention.

“As WHO in the African Region, we provide support to countries at various levels, including resource mobilization for the implementation of national blood transfusion plans, advocacy for integrating blood safety in these plans, and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework for blood safety.

“On World Blood Donor Day today, I urge African governments and political leaders to prioritize the provision of adequate human and financial resources to secure the future of national blood transfusion services. A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products, in sufficient quantities, is a key component of an effective health system,” Moeti said.

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