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Outcomes following kidney transplantation in patients with sickle cell disease: The impact of automated exchange blood transfusion

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Joanna C. Willis, Moji Awogbade, Jo Howard, Cormac Breen, Allifia Abbas, Mark Harber, Ali M. Shendi, Peter A. Andrews, Jack Galliford, Raj Thuraisingham, Alice Gage, Sapna Shah, Claire C. Sharpe

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0236998
Pages (from-to)e0236998
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

King's Authors


There are over 12,000 people with sickle cell disease (SCD) in the UK, and 4-12% of patients who develop Sickle Cell Nephropathy (SCN) progress to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Renal transplantation offers the best outcomes for these patients with but their access to transplantation is often limited. Regular automated exchange blood transfusions (EBT) reduce the complications of SCD and may improve outcomes. However, concerns over alloimmunisation limit its widespread implementation. In this retrospective multicenter study, data were collected on 34 SCD patients who received a kidney transplant across 6 London Hospitals between 1997 and 2017. 20/34 patients were on an EBT program, pre or post renal transplantation. Overall patient and graft survival were inferior to contemporaneous UK data in the ESRD population as a whole, a finding which is well-recognised. However, patient survival (CI 95%, p = 0.0032), graft survival and graft function were superior at all time-points in those who received EBT versus those who did not. 4/20 patients (20%) on EBT developed de novo donor specific antibodies (DSAs). 3/14 patients (21%) not on EBT developed de novo DSAs. The incidence of rejection in those on EBT was 5/18 (28%), as compared with 7/13 (54%) not on EBT. In conclusion, our data, while limited by an inevitably small sample size and differences in the date of transplantation, do suggest that long-term automated EBT post renal transplant is effective and safe, with improvement in graft and patient outcomes and no increase in antibody formation or graft rejection.

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