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Blood donor deferral: time for change? An evidence-based analysis

Authors Borra V, Vandewalle G, Van Remoortel H, Compernolle V, De Buck E, Vandekerckhove P

Received 2 February 2016

Accepted for publication 12 March 2016

Published 24 May 2016 Volume 2016:4 Pages 55—66

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJCTM.S84521

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Cees Th. Smit Sibinga


Vere Borra,1 Giovani Vandewalle,1 Hans Van Remoortel,1 Veerle Compernolle,1,2 Emmy De Buck,1 Philippe Vandekerckhove1–3

1Belgian Red Cross-Flanders, Mechelen, 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Ghent, Ghent, 3Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: Donor selection remains an important part in the safety of the blood supply all over the world. Yet, donor deferral criteria seem to be strongly based on the precautionary principle protecting safety and quality, and on supply and expense considerations. This review therefore provides an overview of the available evidence on donor exclusion criteria, as well as on their cost-effectiveness, for the most frequent reasons of donor deferral in our region. PubMed was queried to retrieve primary research studies, systematic reviews, and health technology assessments (HTAs) concerning donor exclusion criteria. With a similar approach, HTAs about the different blood-banking safety interventions were included. Reasons for donor deferral were recorded via the blood bank information system of the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders. Seven systematic reviews were identified: four on donor safety (hypotension, hypertension/type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, and higher age) and three on recipient safety (hemochromatosis, men who have sex with men, and endoscopy). Forty-three low-quality observational studies were included, as well as 16 HTAs: three about donor exclusion criteria and 13 cost-utility analyses about blood-banking safety interventions. In general, the available evidence for deferral reasons was of low quality, and for 60% of the top 30 reasons for excluding donors, no evidence was found. Blood banking shows its unique position as many safety measures far exceed the normally accepted cost of €50,000/quality-adjusted life-years. The historical model based on the precautionary principle and on supply and expense considerations provides adequate supplies of safe blood at a reasonable price. More and better primary research and evidence-based analyses are required, however, before this model can be replaced by an evidence-based approach. Meanwhile, policy makers should provide guidance at the level of principles, not at the level of technical measures, about the balance between patient and donor rights, and about the acceptable cost-effectiveness implications of these choices.

Keywords: blood donation, deferral criteria, evidence-based, health technology assessment

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