Minimizing Iron Deficiency in Blood Donors


HMC Blood Donor Center is implementing a policy to limit or help limit iron deficiency in its blood donors (whole blood and/or apheresis).  The reasons for this are:

  1. Development of iron deficiency in some donors
  2. Progression of iron deficiency that occurs with frequent blood donation
  3. Potential adverse effects of iron deficiency


Donors high-risk for iron loss include:

  1. Females—all, regardless of age
  2. Males donating three or more times within a 12-month period
  3. Apheresis donors giving 5 sessions in an 8-week period
  4. Donors after one RBC apheresis dual-unit donation
  5. Males and females with borderline low hemoglobin levels:
    1. Males with hemoglobin <= 13.5 g/dl
    2. Females with hemoglobin <= 13.0 g/dl
  6. Donors with low ferritin level (below current lower limit of reference range)


  1. Donors will be provided with information regarding iron-deficiency from donation.
  2. High risk donors (as defined above) will be offered a prescription for iron supplementation equivalent to 18 mg of elemental iron daily for 30 days.
  3. During the iron supplementation period, the donor will be deferred for donation.
  4. If a donor does not take the iron supplement, then he/she is limited to 2 donations/year.
  5. We will offer donors to test ferritin in the following categories:
    1. Apheresis donors after their fifth donation of plasma or platelets within 8 weeks
    2. Whole blood donors after three donations within a 12-month period
    3. Donors after dual-unit (2-unit) RBC apheresis donation
    4. All female donors otherwise meeting donor criteria before donation
  6. Donors with low ferritin levels will be deferred until ferritin levels are normal (based on reference range currently in effect)


AABB Association Bulletin #17-02, Updated Strategies to Limit or Prevent Iron Deficiency in Blood Donors, 26/3/17

Updated 6/9/20