BACKGROUND: This study assesses international variation in volunteer whole blood donor eligibility criteria.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: In February 2008, Web sites of major blood collection organizations in 17 countries were queried for the volume of whole blood donations and six donor eligibility criteria: allowed donation frequency, donor age, hemoglobin (Hb), weight, and deferrals for tattoo and pregnancy/breast-feeding.
RESULTS: The allowed frequency of whole blood donation ranged from 56 to 120 days, some with sex- and age-specific limitations. While blood collection agencies in three countries did not have an upper age limit for donation, the remainder mandated donor retirement at ages from 60 to 81 years. The minimum Hb level was 11.5 to 12.5 g/dL for women and 12.5 to 13.5 g/dL for men. Blood collection organizations in only three countries required a minimum donor weight of less than 50 kg. Tattoo and pregnancy deferrals ranged from 4 to 12 months and 6 weeks to 12 months, respectively. The volume of whole blood donations ranged from 300 to 500 mL. The percentage of total blood volume donated, the absolute grams of Hb expected to be restored per deferral period and per day of donor deferral, and the concentration of Hb expected to be restored per deferral period were calculated.
CONCLUSIONS: International volunteer whole blood donor eligibility criteria demonstrate marked variation. These differences likely cause international variation in the prevalence of adverse donor reactions and iron deficiency anemia. The reasons underlying these dissimilarities are unclear, but may include varying cultural influences and average donor body habitus.
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