The Light at the End of the Tunnel, Or Is It an Iron Horse?

Back again to opine about iron.

- …but blood donation does contribute to iron depletion in the population.


- Concern centers on teens, who are the foundation of our mission for decades to come, but includes menstruating women and “frequent” donors.

- Assessing the impacts is a difficult, lengthy task so…

- …the “precautionary principle” has been invoked, telling us to do something until we know more—i.e. primum non nocere.


Who is and who ought to be driving the train?






Where is the train headed?




-  Hand replacement iron and a positive message to appropriate donors when they are sitting in front of you (my preferred approach).

- If you can’t/won’t hand it to them, facilitate access to iron via vouchers or some similar expedient.

- Limit donation frequency for the highest risk donors (e.g., teens) who cannot or will not commit to taking iron supplements, recognizing the impact on the blood supply.

- Measure iron stores in those at risk and respond appropriately, ex-post facto, to the lab test.

- Tell donors about iron, that they should increase their iron intake, how they can do so, and hope for the best.


One size will not fit all, despite my oft repeated (ad nauseum?) opinion “we are taking it out and we should be putting it back”. However you combine these options, measure the impact or we will never learn the optimal strategies.

Louis Katz, MD; Chief Medical Officer 

Posted: 06/30/2017 | By: Louis Katz, MD; Chief Medical Officer | Permalink
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