A pilot iron substitution programme in female blood donors with iron deficiency without anaemia

Vox Sang. 2011 Apr;100(3):303-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1423-0410.2010.01427.x. Epub 2010 Nov 23.


Background and objectives: Blood donation can contribute to iron deficiency. The possibly resulting anaemia importantly affects donor return rate. The determination of serum ferritin levels revealed iron deficiency in many non-anaemic premenopausal female blood donors at our Institution. We started an iron substitution programme targeting this donor group to prevent anaemia and enhance donor retain.

Materials and methods: Women aged≤50 with haemoglobin levels adequate for donation and serum ferritin≤10 ng/ml were offered iron supplementation. Substitution lasted 16 weeks and the donation interval was extended. History collection including iron deficiency-related symptoms, whole blood count and serum ferritin determination was performed at baseline and after 2 and 6 months. Data were recorded prospectively and compared with those of 108 female controls with iron deficiency not receiving iron substitution (retrospective data).

Results: Of the 116 participating subjects, 60% completed the programme. Significant results were serum ferritin increase (from a mean value of 7.12 to 25.2 ng/ml), resolution of prostration, fatigue, sleep disturbances, tension in the neck, hair loss and nail breakage. No case of anaemia occurred. Sixty per cent of the women completed the programme and donated blood again.

Conclusions: Targeted iron substitution prevents the development of anaemia and enhances donation return in premenopausal female blood donors with iron deficiency.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Iron, Dietary / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Premenopause
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Ferritins
  • Iron