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BACKGROUND: Anemia in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) is associated with poorer health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and physical function, and is frequently treated with transfusions. The current common practice of transfusing multiple red blood cells (RBC) units every 2-4 weeks may result in peaks/troughs in hemoglobin (Hb) level, yet maintaining a stable Hb may better improve HRQoL. We describe a study protocol aiming to investigate the feasibility of weekly low-dose RBC transfusion in MDS patients, including assessing HRQoL and physical function outcomes. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: In this n-of-1 pilot study, patients receive two treatment arms, with randomly allocated treatment sequence: arm A (patient's usual transfusion schedule) and arm B (weekly transfusion, individualized per patient). To facilitate timely delivery of weekly transfusion, extended-matched RBCs are provided, with transfusion based upon the previous week's Hb/pre-transfusion testing results to eliminate delays of awaiting contemporaneous cross-matching. Primary outcome is the feasibility of delivering weekly transfusion. Secondary outcomes include HRQoL, functional activity measurements, RBC usage, and alloimmunization rates. A qualitative substudy explores patient and staff experiences. RESULTS: The trial is open in Australia, Netherlands, and UK. The first patient was recruited in 2020. Inter-country differences in providing RBCs are observed, including patient genotyping versus serological phenotyping to select compatible units. DISCUSSION: This pilot trial evaluates a novel personalized transfusion approach of weekly matched RBC transfusion and challenges the dogma of current routine pre-transfusion matching practice. Findings on study feasibility, HRQoL, and physical functional outcomes and the qualitative substudy will inform the design of a larger definitive trial powered for clinical outcomes.

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RBC transfusion, transfusion practices (adult), transfusion practices (oncology-hematology)