Feasibility of routine ferritin testing for donor management: validation of delayed processing and demonstration of within donor reproducibility over time

Transfusion. 2016 Oct;56(10):2422-2425. doi: 10.1111/trf.13793.


Background: Understanding the effect of delayed processing of whole blood on plasma ferritin will inform the feasibility of both routine ferritin testing in donors and clinical research study design.

Study design and methods: Whole blood tubes drawn from 16 donors were held at 4°C and centrifuged at 24-hour intervals to assess plasma ferritin concentration up to 5 days after draw. Intraindividual variation over time was measured in 21 healthy donors in blood samples collected weekly for 4 weeks and then at 12 weeks.

Results: No significant variation in plasma ferritin concentration was observed in blood stored at 4°C for up to 5 days after draw (p = 0.32). The estimated loss of 4.75% ferritin over 5 days was within the reported 5% variation of the assay. Moderate intraindividual variation occurs over time in both sexes, with variability increasing with the mean. No difference was detected between men and women in the regression of standard deviation on mean ferritin (p = 0.43).

Conclusions: Ferritin is stable in whole blood up to 5 days, demonstrating operational feasibility of its use in monitoring donor iron stores. Moderate fluctuations over time occur, but ferritin measurements are sufficiently reliable to determine donor iron status on the day of donation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • Blood Preservation / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Control*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Ferritins