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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Blood donors attending a donation session may be deemed ineligible to donate blood due to a failure to meet low haemoglobin (Hb) thresholds. Several studies have identified factors associated with a donor falling below these Hb thresholds. A review of these factors will inform future prospective studies and form the basis for predictive models of deferral due to low Hb. MATERIALS/METHODS: Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry from 1980 to September 2012. Demographic data, donor history, haematological/biological factors and the primary outcome of deferral due to low Hb were extracted. Analyses were descriptive and quantitative; pooled odds ratios (ORs) were obtained by meta-analysis. RESULTS: Fifty-five studies met the inclusion criteria. A consistently higher rate of low Hb deferral was reported in females compared with males; meta-analysis showed a significantly greater risk of deferral due to low Hb in females compared with males in studies with universal Hb thresholds for males and females (OR 14.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) 12.82-17.34) and in studies with sex-specific Hb thresholds (OR 8.19, 95% CI 4.88-13.74). Greater rates of deferral due to low Hb were also associated with increasing age, higher ambient temperature, low body weight, shorter inter-donation interval and in donors of Hispanic or African descent. CONCLUSION: This work will help to define the criteria that should be considered in any large scale study of blood donor deferral, especially those that measure or aim to change failure to meet low Hb thresholds.

Original publication




Journal article


Transfus Med

Publication Date





309 - 320


anaemia, blood donation, blood donor, deferral, haemoglobin, systematic review, Blood Donors, Donor Selection, Female, Hemoglobins, Humans, MEDLINE, Male