The first randomized trial assessing donation-intervals recently published in The Lancet will help to clarify safe whole blood donation frequencies which vary from 8 to 16 weeks around the world. Over two years, researchers randomly assigned more than 45,000 U.K. donors to different donation frequencies to compare the amount of whole blood collected and the effects on iron stores and other measures of donor health. In the U.K., men and women are currently allowed to donate every 12 weeks and 16 weeks, respectively. Male blood donors (22,466) were randomly assigned to donate blood every 8, 10 or 12 weeks; and 22,797 female donors were randomly assigned to donate blood every 12, 14 or 16 weeks. As expected, donors in the most frequent intervals gave more blood over the two year trial compared to the other donation intervals (p<0.001 for both male and female donors) without significant differences in the quality of life. However, more frequent donation intervals also led to lower stores of iron for both men and women and more deferrals for low hemoglobin (p<0.001 compared to standard interval groups). Blood collection services may be able to shorten blood donation intervals for some individuals for short periods when blood supplies are low. However, an individualized approach to blood donation may be best to ensure all donors have sufficient stores of iron.
- Di Angelantonio E, Thompson SG, Kaptoge S, et al. Efficiency and safety of varying the frequency of whole blood donation (INTERVAL): a randomized trial of 45,000 donors. The Lancet 2017; epublished September 20, 2017.
- Alan AE and Murphy E. The price of blood is measured in iron. The Lancet 2017; epublished September 20, 2017.