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Effect of donor sex on recipient mortality in transfusion


Background — Conflicting observational evidence exists regarding the association between the sex of red-cell donors and mortality among transfusion recipients. Evidence to inform transfusion practice and policy is limited.

Methods — In this multicenter, double-blind trial, we randomly assigned patients undergoing red-cell transfusion to receive units of red cells from either male donors or female donors. Patients maintained their trial-group assignment throughout the trial period, including during subsequent inpatient and outpatient encounters. Randomization was conducted in a 60:40 ratio (male donor group to female donor group) to match the historical allocation of red-cell units from the blood supplier. The primary outcome was survival, with the male donor group as the referent group.

Results — A total of 8719 patients underwent randomization before undergoing transfusion; 5190 patients were assigned to the male donor group, and 3529 to the female donor group. At baseline, the mean (±SD) age of the enrolled patients was 66.8±16.4 years. The setting of the first transfusion was as an inpatient in 6969 patients (79.9%), of whom 2942 (42.2%) had been admitted under a surgical service. The baseline hemoglobin level before transfusion was 79.5±19.7 g per liter, and patients received a mean of 5.4±10.5 units of red cells in the female donor group and 5.1±8.9 units in the male donor group (difference, 0.3 units; 95% confidence interval [CI], −0.1 to 0.7). Over the duration of the trial, 1141 patients in the female donor group and 1712 patients in the male donor group died. In the primary analysis of overall survival, the adjusted hazard ratio for death was 0.98 (95% CI, 0.91 to 1.06).

Conclusions — This trial showed no significant difference in survival between a transfusion strategy involving red-cell units from female donors and a strategy involving red-cell units from male donors.



Chassé M, Fergusson DA, Tinmouth A, Acker JP, Perelman I, Tuttle A, English SW, Hawken S, Forster AJ, Shehata N, Thavorn K, Wilson K, Cober N, Maddison H, Tokessy M. N Engl J Med. 2023; 388:1386-1395. Epub 2023 Apr 12.

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