Oxford-led study makes recommendations for blood transfusion services during pandemic
Professor Simon J Stanworth is an NHSBT Consultant Haematologist, Principal Investigator at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford.
All blood transfusion services are challenged by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and what this might mean for supply and demand for blood. To address this uncertainty, blood transfusion services have been planning for possible big reductions in donations and loss of critical staff due to sickness.
A study looking at how blood transfusion services have coped during the going Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has found that while blood providers such as NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have reported a reduction in donor numbers, it has largely been counterbalanced by a reduction in demand for transfusions.
The study by a group of international blood donation and hospital blood management experts was led by Prof Simon Stanworth, Consultant Haematologist for NHSBT and Oxford University Hospitals (OUH).
The aim of the study was to provide to develop guidance on transfusion practice and blood supply in times of potential or actual shortage. To help provide advice for transfusion services, a group of international experts worked together to develop guidance on transfusion practice and blood supply in times of potential or actual shortage. These experts worked across NHSBT, OUH and international partners, and involved leaders in donation services, processing of blood and use of blood in hospitals (patient blood management).
The expert group worked closely with colleagues in the UK Blood Service’s Systematic Review Initiative, who are based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, OUH. This team ran a systematic search on a daily basis to identify relevant COVID-19 literature. The focus of the search and the resulting synthesis was the transfusion chain from donor to patient. A large number of citations and publications supporting a range of strategies that can be considered to plan for imbalances in the supply and use of blood for transfusion were identified.
Some of the key findings were that although blood providers like NHSBT in England have reported a reduction in donor numbers, this has (fortunately) largely been matched by reductions in demand for transfusion of patients. A number of options for contingency planning were recommended to support multiple steps in the chain from the donor through the collection and processing of blood, to the implementation of policies underpinning prioritisation of use for patients in the event of predicted shortage.
We hope that these strategies can be of assistance to blood transfusion services in countries at different stages in the pandemic.
Prof Simon Stanworth
The study team recommended a number of options for contingency planning to support the various steps in the chain from the donor through the collection and processing of blood, to the implementation of policies underpinning prioritisation of use for patients in the event of predicted shortage.