High mortality among children with sickle cell anemia and overt stroke who discontinue blood transfusion after transition to an adult program

Transfusion. 2016 May;56(5):1014-21. doi: 10.1111/trf.13418. Epub 2015 Nov 23.


Background: Chronic blood transfusion is the standard of care in the management of overt stroke due to sickle cell anemia (SS) to prevent recurrence of stroke. The problem arises when children are transitioned to adult care where blood transfusion may be discontinued. The purpose of this study was to report the outcome of 22 patients with SS and overt stroke who were transitioned to our adult program between 1993 and 2009.

Study design and methods: Transitioned patients were kept on chronic blood transfusion they had as children. Blood bank data were performed and computerized according to FDA and AABB regulations. Records were kept prospectively. Blood counts and percent hemoglobin (Hb)S were obtained before and after transfusion. HbS was kept below 30% after transfusion. Metabolic profiles were obtained every 6 months or more often if needed. Statistical analysis was by the two-tailed t-test.

Results: Patients who were compliant with blood transfusion were rarely hospitalized for painful crises. Alloimmunization and iron overload were the major complications of blood transfusion. Eight patients who refused to be maintained on chronic blood transfusion or who were noncompliant died within 1 to 5 years after transition. Causes of death included stroke in two, sudden in three, and multiorgan failure in three. The overall rate of death after transition was 36% and the major cause was discontinuation of blood transfusion.

Conclusion: Efforts must be made to maintain adequate chronic simple or exchange blood transfusion for children with SS and stroke after transition to adult care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / mortality
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Blood Transfusion / methods
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hemoglobin, Sickle / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iron Overload / etiology
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Transfusion Reaction*
  • Transition to Adult Care*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hemoglobin, Sickle