Blood Transfusion Utilization in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

Transfusion. 2020 Jun 24. doi: 10.1111/trf.15947. Online ahead of print.


Background: The acute respiratory illness designated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and caused a worldwide pandemic. Concerns arose about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on blood donations and potential significant blood transfusion needs in severely ill COVID-19 patients. Data on blood usage in hospitalized COVID-19 patients are scarce.

Study design and methods: We performed a retrospective observational study of blood component transfusions in the first 4 weeks of COVID-19 ward admissions. The study period began 14 days before the first COVID-19 cohort wards opened in our hospital in March 2020 and ended 28 days afterward. The number of patients and blood components transfused in the COVID-19 wards was tabulated. Transfusion rates of each blood component were compared in COVID-19 wards versus all other inpatient wards.

Results: COVID-19 wards opened with seven suspected patients and after 4 weeks had 305 cumulative COVID-19 admissions. Forty-one of 305 hospitalized COVID-19 patients (13.4%) received transfusions with 11.1% receiving red blood cells (RBCs), 1.6% platelets (PLTs), 1.0% plasma, and 1.0% cryoprecipitate (cryo). COVID-19 wards had significantly lower transfusion rates compared to non-COVID wards for RBCs (0.03 vs 0.08 units/patient-day), PLTs (0.003 vs 0.033), and plasma (0.002 vs 0.018; all p < 0.0001). Cryo rates were similar (0.008 vs 0.009, p = 0.6).

Conclusions: Hospitalized COVID-19 patients required many fewer blood transfusions than other hospitalized patients. COVID-19 transfusion data will inform planning and preparation of blood resource utilization during the pandemic.