News in brief: Blood donors not following up quickly on Lifeblood advice; Childhood cancer casts long shadow on survivors’ QOL; Rituximab users have eight-fold higher risk of severe COVID-19

Blood donors not following up quickly on Lifeblood advice

Anaemia, one of the main reasons for deferral of blood donation, is not receiving optimal follow-up and action and impacting donation rates.

A study from Australian Red Cross Lifeblood found only half of donors with an iron-related deferral followed advice from Lifeblood and visited their GP within 30 days of deferral.

The study of 1928 donors who were deferred due to low Hb found a sharp increase in the rate of GP visits in the first month following deferral compared to the month immediately prior. However, of those visiting a GP early after deferral, only 53.7% (n = 542) underwent iron-monitoring tests in those visits.

The rate increased to 70% of all donors with low Hb/ferritin having at least one iron-monitoring test within 6 months of deferral.

The study also noted that donors who visited their GP early had poorer health than the delayed or no GP visit group and a lower rate of returning to Lifeblood for a successful blood donation.

“This highlights the need for more effective strategies to encourage immediate seeking of medical investigation by donors after iron-related deferral,” the study said.

Read more in Transfusion

Childhood cancer casts long shadow on survivors’ QOL

An Australian and New Zealand study of 182 parents of children <16 years and more than five years from their diagnosis, found parents of cancer survivors were more likely to report their children were sad and lonely.

Parents also reported their children experienced 3.2 late effects relating to their cancer and/or treatment including dental problems (43.4%), fatigue (38.3%), problems relating to immunity (37.7%), memory and learning problems (33.7%) and emotional difficulties (30.3%).

The study found children who received treatments other than surgery (i.e., chemotherapy, radiotherapy, transplant) and who experienced more late effects were significantly associated with worse parent-reported child HRQoL.

Lower parent resilience was also associated with child sadness and loneliness.

The findings suggest psychosocial functioning of young survivors may be an area of ongoing vulnerability years after treatment completion.

“Accordingly, improving patient and parent HRQoL should be a goal of survivorship care,” it said.

Read more in Pediatric Blood & Cancer

Rituximab users have eight-fold higher risk of severe COVID-19

Patients taking the B-cell depleting agent rituximab are at eight times greater risk of being hospitalised with COVID-19 than those taking other biologics, new research has found.

The findings, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, lend further weight to evidence showing an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes in patients receiving B-cell targeted therapy.

For the study, researchers assessed 1,116 patients with inflammatory arthritides treated in day hospitals with the intravenous biological agents rituximab (392), abatacept (105), infliximab (449) or tocilizumab (170) across seven clinical centres in France.

Data, collected from September 2019 to January 2021, showed 10 cases of severe COVID-19, of which 9 occurred in patients treated with rituximab (2.3% of rituximab-treated patients) and 1 in a patient given infliximab (0.1% of patients treated with biological agents other than rituximab, 0.2% of patients treated with infliximab).

In multivariate analyses rituximab was the only factor associated with risk of hospitalised COVID-19, with an 8 times increased risk versus other biologic agents, the researchers noted.

While the low number of events and the number of covariates in the study “limit the robustness of the statistical analysis”, the researchers said that on the back of their findings IA patients receiving rituximab “should be prioritised for vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, sufficiently in advance of treatment infusion/reinfusion”.

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