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Transfusion. 1997 Apr;37(4):382-92.

The sickle cell hemolytic transfusion reaction syndrome.

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  • 1Division of Transfusion Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-1713, USA.



Patients with sickle cell anemia may develop serious, life-threatening hemolytic transfusion reactions (HTRs). More severe anemia may develop after the HTR than was present before transfusion, which suggests the possibility of an increased rate of hemolysis of autologous red cells.


The signs and symptoms occurring during eight severe HTRs that occurred in five patients with sickle cell anemia were reviewed, as were published reports by other investigators. Calculations of red cell production and destruction incorporating known correction factors for reticulocyte maturation were performed to determine the most probable mechanism for the striking drop in hematocrit observed in several instances.


A characteristic constellation of findings was recognized in some severe HTRs in patients with sickle cell anemia. Calculations of daily red cell production and senescence indicated that a marked drop in hematocrit occurs when erythropoiesis is suppressed in a patient with a short red cell life span and that this could account for severe posttransfusion anemia when donor red cells are hemolyzed during an HTR.


A sickle cell HTR syndrome was defined. A rapid increase in the severity of anemia occurs in patients with sickle cell anemia when all donor red cells are hemolyzed during an HTR and when there is suppression of erythropoiesis, as commonly occurs as a result of transfusion or concomitant illness. Although an increased rate of hemolysis of autologous red cells may also occur, more definitive data are required to document that in these patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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