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The beta-globin gene mutation in sickle cell anemia results in anemia and repeated bouts of vascular occlusion. The cumulative effect of these vasocclusive events is progressive damage to many organs including the kidneys, lungs, and brain. The transfusion of red blood cells (RBC) can ameliorate many of these complications, but can be associated with both acute and chronic complications, including iron overload. The objective of the Best Practices in Transfusion Medicine for Patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Conference was to review the available published evidence and clinical experience surrounding the use of RBC transfusions for sickle cell disease by a panel of experts. The expert panel developed explicit clinical guidelines for the use of RBC in SCD patients. The panel also made recommendations for further research. A set of guidelines were produced for dissemination to pertinent stakeholders. If implemented, these clinical pathways have the potential to optimize the use of red blood cell transfusions in SCD.
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