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Background: Blood transfusion is an integral part of the supportive care for patients with sickle cell anemia and thalassaemia. The hazard of red cell alloimmunization, however, is one of the main complications of this therapy.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of red cell alloimmunization in Omani patients with sickle cell anemia and thalassaemia.
Methods: This study included 262 patients whose historical transfusion records were available. One hundred and twenty-nine patients with thalassaemia who were attending the day care unit for regular transfusions, and 133 sickle cell anemia patients admitted at our hospital were included in this study. The Diamed gel system was used for the screening and identification of atypical antibodies.
Results: The rate of alloimmunization in sickle cell anemia patients was 31% (n=41), whereas in thalassaemia patients it was 20% (n=26). Antibodies to E, e, C, c, D, K, S, Fyª, Kpª, Jkª and Cw were observed. Among the two groups, 8 developed nonspecific antibodies, and 12 developed more than one antibody; however, 85% of patients were also immunized to Rh and Kell antigens.
Conclusions: Red cell transfusions are associated with a significant risk of alloimmunization. It is, therefore, imperative to perform an initial extended red cell phenotyping for both donors and recipients, and carefully select ABO, Rh and Kell matched donors.