Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Finds Hemochromatosis Patients' Blood Is As Safe As Other Donated Blood -- May Help Alleviate Blood Shortage

Date:
September 27, 2001
Source:
NIH/National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute
Summary:
Blood donors with hemochromatosis, a disorder in which iron accumulates in organs and body tissues, do not pose a greater risk to blood safety than other donors, according to the results of a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and published in the September 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Blood donors with hemochromatosis, a disorder in which iron accumulates in organs and body tissues, do not pose a greater risk to blood safety than other donors, according to the results of a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and published in the September 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Related Articles


Hemochromatosis patients are treated with periodic phlebotomies or “blood letting” to remove excess iron from their body. Because these patients benefit medically and financially by giving blood (they don’t have to pay for phlebotomy), there has been concern that they might donate despite having infectious disease risk factors and that their blood might be less safe. As a result, FDA regulations have not promoted blood donation from hemochromatosis patients.

“Hemochromatosis patients in this study had no more risk of transmitting viral infections than did other donors. This finding should help guide future decisions on blood donations by these patients. If people with hemochromatosis qualify as donors then that could potentially have a significant impact on the national blood supply,” said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant.

The study authors report that the issue of the acceptability of blood donations from patients with hemochromatosis becomes more relevant as concerns about eating contaminated beef lead to the implementation of new donor deferral policies based on a history of living or traveling in Europe or the United Kingdom.

Hemochromatosis affects 0.5 percent of white people living in the United States. Once considered rare, the disease is now believed by many to be the most common genetic disease of white Americans. There are few published data on the prevalence of the disease in minority populations.

While it seems like a relatively small pool of potential donors, people with hemochromatosis would give regularly since periodic donation is required to control their condition.

There have been varying estimates of the number of potential donations from hemochromatosis patients – some as high as 3 million units per year. Overall U.S. blood donations total about 13.9 million units per year, according to the American Association of Blood Banks.

The study involved an anonymous mail survey conducted in 1998 as part of The Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study (REDS). Survey respondents were from eight large U.S. blood centers. Of the 52, 650 blood donors who returned questionnaires, scientists identified 197 who reported a diagnosis of hemochromatosis. Analyses were restricted to donors who reported hemochromatosis and did not indicate some other health-related reason motivating them to donate blood.

Although nearly 46 percent of hemochromatosis donors reported that their primary motivation for donating was to treat their illness, the prevalence of unreported risk factors for transfusion-transmissible viral infections (TTVIs) was similar for patients with hemochromatosis (2 percent) and for donors who did not donate for a health reason (3.1 percent). The overall prevalence of positive screening tests for TTVI, a measure of possible viral infection, was also similar in both groups – 1.3 percent of hemochromatosis patients versus 1.6 percent of donors who did not have a health reason to donate.

“The importance of blood donations from hemochromatosis patients may increase even further. Recent improvements in diagnosis may lead to even larger estimates of hemochromatosis prevalence,” said Dr. George Schreiber, principal investigator of the REDS coordinating center at Westat.

Prevalence estimates may also change as a result of an ongoing study funded by NHLBI that is screening large populations in an effort to find genetic markers for hemochromatosis.

Almost 90 percent of hemochromatosis donors in the survey gave blood at centers whose policy was to defer all hemochromatosis patients, thus restricting them from donating. The study authors propose several explanations for this, including the possibility that current risk factor screening at blood collection centers may not detect all cases of hemochromatosis. Alternatively, donors may either intentionally not report their condition so they can donate or they may fail to report their condition because of miscommunications with blood bank staff. They are not asked directly whether they have hemochromatosis but whether they have “a blood disease.”

Current FDA regulations for blood donation do not prohibit blood from hemochromatosis patients. However, unless the blood center has an FDA variance, all blood that is drawn during therapeutic phlebotomies must be labeled and the source indicated. It is then up to physicians and their patients to decide whether they want to use the blood. Schreiber and REDS study co-authors note that labeled blood is usually not well accepted and is often discarded. In 1999, the FDA began granting variances to blood collection organizations that offer free phlebotomies to all patients with hemochromatosis. The variances allow blood to be collected from these patients without special labeling. However, to qualify for a variance, the blood collection organization must bear the cost of the free phlebotomies. Only a small percentage of licensed and registered blood collection facilities have requested and received variances.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. "Study Finds Hemochromatosis Patients' Blood Is As Safe As Other Donated Blood -- May Help Alleviate Blood Shortage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010927072101.htm>.
NIH/National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. (2001, September 27). Study Finds Hemochromatosis Patients' Blood Is As Safe As Other Donated Blood -- May Help Alleviate Blood Shortage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010927072101.htm
NIH/National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. "Study Finds Hemochromatosis Patients' Blood Is As Safe As Other Donated Blood -- May Help Alleviate Blood Shortage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010927072101.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins