Risk of red blood cell alloimmunisation in Rwanda: Assessment of pretransfusion crossmatch techniques used in district hospitals

  • E Ndahimana
  • A Gothot
  • C Gérard
  • F Senyana
  • S R’zik
  • O Mukabayire
  • L Mutesa


Background: Screening of alloantibodies in patients is not yet done in district hospitals of Rwanda. The practice is to transfuse ABO/D compatible blood following an immediate spin crossmatch (IS-XM) or indirect antiglobulin test crossmatch (IAT-XM).

Objectives: To assess the risk of red blood cell (RBC) alloimmunisation associated with the use of IS-XM compared to the IAT-XM in patients receiving blood transfusions in district hospitals in Rwanda.

Design: A cross-sectional comparative descriptive study.

Setting: Four Rwandan district hospitals. Kirehe and Nyanza hospitals used IS-XM while Muhima and Ruhengeri hospitals used IAT-XM.

Subjects: Blood samples were obtained from 187 patients (101 with IS-XM and 86 with IAT-XM) transfused in January, February, October, and November of 2012.

Results: The median age of blood recipients was 31 years (7 - 80) and 36% of them were male. Sixteen specific antibodies were identified in 12 patients: anti-RH1/D (2),anti-RH2/C (2), anti-RH3/E (2),anti-RH4/c  (1),anti-RH5/e (2),anti-LE1/Lea (2),anti-JK1/Jka (1),anti-JK2/Jkb (1),anti-KEL1/K (1),anti-MNS1/M (1),and autoantibody (1).The global prevalence of red blood cell (RBC) alloimmunisation was 6.4 % (12/187). That  prevalence was significantly higher in the IS-XM group (10.4%) than in the IAT-XM group (2.3%) with an odds ratio of 4.8; [95% CI=1.2-19.8]; and a p-value of 0.031.

Conclusion: The prevalence of red blood cell (RBC) alloimmunisation in 187 patients receiving blood transfusions was 6.4% and was higher in recipients from hospitals using IS-XM, with Rhesus (RH) system antibodies widely predominant (56.2%).We recommend that IAT-XM be used in all district hospitals in Rwanda to minimise this risk.


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eISSN: 0012-835X