Good Engraftment but Quality and Donor Concerns for Cryopreserved Hemopoietic Progenitor Cell Products Collected During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Transplant Cell Ther. 2021 Dec;27(12):1022.e1-1022.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jtct.2021.09.012. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


Changes to donor availability, collection center capacity, and travel restrictions during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic led to routine cryopreservation of most unrelated donor products for hematopoietic transplantation prior to the recipient commencing the conditioning regimen. We investigated the effect of this change on unrelated donor product quality and clinical outcomes. Product information was requested from transplantation centers in Australia and New Zealand and clinical outcome data from the Australasian Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient Registry (ABMTRR). In total, 191 products were collected between April 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, and most (74%) were from international collection centers. Median post-thaw CD34 recovery was 78% (range 25% to 176%) and median post-thaw CD34 viability was 87% (range 34% to 112%). Median time to neutrophil recovery was 17 days (interquartile range 10 to 24 days), and graft failure occurred in 6 patients (4%). These clinical outcomes were similar to those of "fresh" unrelated donor transplants reported to the ABMTRR in 2019. However, recipient transplantation centers reported problems with 29% of products in the form of damage during transit, low cell dose, inadequate labeling, missing representative samples, or missing documentation. These problems were critical in 7 cases (4%). At last follow-up, 22 products (12%) had not been infused. Routine cryopreservation of unrelated donor hemopoietic progenitor cell products has enabled safe continuation of allogeneic transplant services during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, practices for product tracing, documentation, and transportation can be optimized, and measures to reduce the incidence of unused unrelated donor product are required.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cryopreservation; Donor; Engraftment; Stem cell quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cryopreservation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2