Hemoglobin and iron indices in nonanemic premenopausal blood donors predict future deferral from whole blood donation

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Iron deficiency anemia is an important reason for blood donor deferral. We prospectively determined whether screening donors with hemoglobin (Hb) and iron indices before donation can predict subsequent deferral due to anemia.


We recruited premenopausal, eligible (nonanemic) female donors. Hb, ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and hepcidin were measured, and the sTfR/(log)ferritin (sTfR-F) index was calculated. After 6 months, the donor database was reviewed and whether donors had returned and undergone successful donation was recorded.


Of donors, 59 of 261(22.6%) were iron depleted (ferritin < 15 ng/mL). Iron-depleted donors had donated more often in the previous year, were younger, and had lower Hb. After a minimum of 6 months, 145 eligible donors had returned; of these 10 (6.9%) were deferred for anemia. Donors who developed anemia had significantly lower Hb, ferritin, and hepcidin and higher sTfR and sTfR-F at baseline. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for Hb as a predictor of deferral was 0.86, and for ferritin was 0.88. Hb of less than 130 g/L and ferritin of less than 10 ng/mL combined had sensitivity 80% and specificity 96% in predicting deferral.


Screening with Hb and iron indices enables prediction of donors at risk of subsequent anemia and who would most benefit from prevention strategies.

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