Understanding insights from non-boosted, pre-formed Anti-D donors: a research study update

What did we discover?

Donors with Anti-D antibodies (particular proteins in their blood) who aren’t currently boosted (boosting is a procedure to increase antibody production, a bit like vaccination), would like to know more about the Anti-D program and how they can be as useful as possible.

What was the question?

We wanted to learn more about what donors with Anti-D antibodies and who haven’t been approached to be boosted knew about Anti-D and the Anti-D program.

Why is it important?

We rely on donors who have Anti-D to donate these antibodies to prevent haemolytic disease in babies. At the moment, the number of Anti-D donors is quite small and we want to come up with other ways to bring new donors into the program.

What did we do?

We invited donors with pre-formed Anti-D to take part in an interview. We also interviewed one donor who had declined to be boosted and one donor who was approached but was ineligible.

What did we find out?

Donors knew they had Anti-D but weren’t aware of the Anti-D program

Most people were aware that they had Anti-D antibodies. They learned about this typically from their pregnancies or from the antibody letter we sent out after their first donation. However, most donors weren’t aware of Lifeblood’s Anti-D program and hadn’t been contacted to join the program. 

What should I be donating?

Some participants thought they were Anti-D donors, while others weren’t sure if their Anti-D was being donated at each donation. Most donors were unsure if it was better for them to be donating plasma or blood to make the most of their donation.

 “I thought you took the whole blood and then you developed it from that. I didn't realise that you'd prefer the plasma for the Anti-D.”

“If I’m just donating normal plasma, do you take that plasma like Anti-D out as well as the people that are on the Anti-D program, or do you not use that Anti-D?”

Donors want to use their Anti-D to help

Donors wanted to make sure their donations were useful, and wanted more information on how to do this. They were happy for Anti-D staff to contact them about the program and for them to follow up over the years. They would also like to receive more information about Anti-D in donor centres:

“I probably think the more information you could tell someone to prepare. Like even sow a seed in their mind to see if that's something that they'd be interested in in the future.”


What happens next?

We’ve created a list of recommendations we think will help with recruiting new Anti-D donors and further support the retention of current donors.

If you’d like more information about this study, please contact Dr. Rachel Thorpe at rthorpe@redcrossblood.org.au

Thank you to all the donors and staff who generously helped us by participating in this study.

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