Background: Long-term survival of transfusion recipients has rarely been studied. This study examines short- and long-term mortality among transfusion recipients and reports these as absolute rates and rates relative to the general population.
Study design and methods: Population-based cohort study of transfusion recipients in Denmark and Sweden followed for up to 20 years after their first blood transfusion. Main outcome measure was all-cause mortality.
Results: A total of 1,118,261 transfusion recipients were identified, of whom 62.0 percent were aged 65 years or older at the time of their first registered transfusion. Three months after the first transfusion, 84.3 percent of recipients were alive. One-, 5-, and 20-year posttransfusion survival was 73.7, 53.4, and 27.0 percent, respectively. Survival was slightly poorer in men than in women, decreased with increasing age, and was worst for recipients transfused at departments of internal medicine. The first 3 months after the first transfusion, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was 17.6 times higher in transfusion recipients than in the general population. One to 4 years after first transfusion, the SMR was 2.1 and even after 17 years the SMR remained significantly 1.3-fold increased.
Conclusion: The survival and relative mortality patterns among blood transfusion recipients were characterized with unprecedented detail and precision. Our results are relevant to assessments of the consequences of possible transfusion-transmitted disease as well as for cost-benefit estimation of new blood safety interventions.