Platelets (PLT) for transfusion can be obtained by apheresis or by whole-blood donation. Pooling of buffy coats from 4–6 donations is used to prepare whole-blood-derived PLT concentrates in most European countries and in Canada. There is an ongoing debate about infectious risks and immunological side effects associated with different types of PLT products.

In this study, data on PLT recipient adverse events were retrieved from the French haemovigilance system. Additionally, donor adverse reactions were available from 23 of 26 French regions. Transfusion of apheresis PLT was associated with significantly more adverse reactions and life-threatening reactions than pooled PLT. Patient mortality rates due to an adverse transfusion reaction were similar. In donors, significantly more adverse reactions were observed with plateletpheresis donations.

Despite some methodological weaknesses, this study provides important information on the safety of the different types of PLT concentrates. Further prospective, randomised studies are needed to determine which type of PLT concentrate should be preferred for transfusion.

– Rainer Moog