Regular blood donation can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Early recognition and reversal of excessive iron loss by iron supplementation may avoid symptomatic iron store depletion in blood donors. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of iron supplementation in maintaining the iron stores of voluntary blood donors. A total of 200 regular volunteers who donated twice
in previous year were randomly divided into two groups. Iron: oral iron supplementation tablets of elemental iron as ferrous fumarate. Placebo group: glucose containing capsules, to be taken once daily for 21 days after one unit of blood donation. Their hemogram, serum ferritin, red cell indices and red cell distribution width were determined at baseline and after 1 month and at the time of next blood donation. Out of 200 volunteers enrolled 98 were assigned to iron group and rest 102 into placebo group. Total of 37 % donors dropped out, yielding a dropout rate of 35 % in iron group and 39 % in the placebo group. The haemoglobin and ferritin levels showed significant improvement in iron group compared to placebo group (p < 0.05). Three weeks of oral iron therapy (98.6 mg elemental iron/day) was able to maintain iron stores at 1 month after donation but was not sufficient to sustain the iron stores over a period of 3 months. Thus there is need to evaluate increased dosage or duration of iron supplementation in maintaining the iron stores.