Background: Plasma from female donors has been implicated in the sometimes fatal complication known as transfusion-related acute lung injury. In studies of patients in intensive care units, worsened gas exchange of the lungs has also been attributed to female plasma. Despite a lack of population-based evidence, policies have already been introduced to exclude female donor plasma.
Study design and methods: Short-term mortality after plasma transfusion was investigated using data from the Scandinavian Donations and Transfusions (SCANDAT) database. A cohort of 92,565 patients in 30 Swedish hospitals were followed for 14 days after their first plasma transfusion. The relative risk (RR) of death in recipients of female plasma compared to recipients of only male plasma was estimated from Poisson regression.
Results: Recipients had median age 70 years, received a mean of 4.4 plasma units, and had an overall 14-day mortality of 8.43%. Sixty-eight percent were exposed to female plasma, with a 14-day mortality of 8.85% compared to 7.53% in the nonexposed group. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, the RRs were 1.16 (confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.27) and 1.32 (CI, 1.17-1.49) for those receiving 3 to 4 and 5 or more units of female plasma, respectively. Risk estimates were increased in an analysis of deaths with a concomitant discharge diagnosis involving the respiratory or circulatory system or an adverse reaction.
Conclusions: This large population-based cohort study of unselected patients suggests that transfusion of plasma from female donors confers a short-term survival disadvantage on recipients.