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Transplantation. 1992 Jun;53(6):1251-6.

The prevalence, course, and characteristics of chronic anemia after heart and lung transplantation.

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Department of Research Haematology, Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, England.


A retrospective study of the 99 surviving heart and lung transplant (HLT) recipients at one center showed that 31% had significant anemia (hemoglobin less than 100g/L) six months after transplantation. Chronic anemia persisted in 18% of HLT recipients two years posttransplantation. A similar study of 100 heart transplant recipients showed no unexplained anemic patients. The prevalence of anemia after HLT was unrelated to the original diagnosis, immunosuppression, or acute rejection. All HLT recipients appeared to be unduly sensitive to the myelosuppressive effects of azathioprine. Detailed studies in 16 representative patients showed a normochromic, anisocytotic anemia with normal reticulocyte counts, B12 and folate levels, and haptoglobin levels and appropriate erythropoietin levels--but increased ESRs, low/normal iron levels and low/normal total iron binding capacity, normal or raised ferritin levels, and autoantibodies in 4 (25%). Bone marrow aspirates in 10 patients showed dyshemopoiesis out of proportion to the degree of anemia and colonies of activated lymphoid cells. The cause for this anemia appears to be a combination of anemia of chronic disease and dyshemopoiesis, both of uncertain etiology.

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