We have conducted a six-year (1986-1991) review of our transfusion service to identify the frequency of blood transfusions in patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis, before and after availability of recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) as an alternative to allogeneic blood. Four hundred forty-nine patients who underwent a total of 54,929 dialysis events were reviewed. Overall, 343 (76%) of 449 patients received 4,864 red-cell transfusions during 54,929 dialysis events. Red-cell units transfused per patient were significantly lower in 1991 compared to the year (1988) prior to EPO (5.3 +/- 4.5, M+SD, vs 8.6 +/- 13.4, p = 0.02) but not compared to 1986 (6.4, p = 0.11). The frequency of red-cell transfusions per 100 dialysis events declined substantially when 1991 was compared to 1988 (4.11 vs 13.35, p < 0.01) but less so when 1991 was compared to 1986 (4.11 vs 6.20, p < 0.01). Overall, 4864 red-cell units transfused to dialysis patients accounted for 4.46% of 109,159 red-cell units released by our transfusion service, decreasing from 7.3% in 1988 to 2.0% in 1991. We conclude 1) the availability of EPO in 1989 was accompanied by a significant reduction in the frequency of red-cell exposure in patients undergoing dialysis from 1988, but the reduction was less impressive when compared to 1986. 2) Attention to EPO dosage, concomitant causes of anemia, and resistance to EPO therapy in this setting may be required to take full advantage of this biotechnologic alternative to blood transfusion.
View details for Web of Science ID A1994NM65600009
View details for PubMedID 8050211