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Preserving the national blood supply.

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Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


This paper examines the current state of the blood supply in the US and focuses on the potential for augmenting blood availability by attention to the iron status of donors. Increasing demands are being made upon the national blood supply as rates of blood donation are declining, in part because of the loss of blood donors as a result of enhanced screening and testing procedures. Iron-related means of expanding the blood supply include the use of blood from individuals undergoing therapeutic phlebotomy for hereditary hemochromatosis and enhancing the retention and commitment of women of childbearing age as donors by using iron supplementation to prevent iron deficiency. In Section I, Dr. Klein discuss the circumstances responsible for a decline in the population of eligible donors, including public attitudes toward donation, factors influencing the retention of donors by blood centers, and the effects of increased screening and testing to maintain the safety of the blood supply. In Section II, Drs. Kushner and Ajioka focus on the consequences of the decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop recommendations to permit blood centers to collect blood from patients with hereditary hemochromatosis and to distribute this blood obtained without disease labeling if all other screening and testing procedures are passed. After summarizing the pathophysiology of hereditary hemochromatosis, the use by blood centers of blood obtained from heterozygotes and homozygotes for hereditary hemochromatosis is considered. In Section III, Dr. Brittenham reviews the use of low dose, short-term carbonyl iron supplementation for women donors of childbearing age. Replacing the iron lost at donation can help prevent iron deficiency in women of childbearing age and, by decreasing deferral, enhance the retention and commitment of women who give blood regularly. He emphasizes the use by blood centers of iron-related means to enhance recruitment and retention of blood donors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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