Pregnant patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) have higher morbidity compared to patients without SCD. SCD during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal and obstetrical complications including preterm birth, preeclampsia, and others. Moreover, during pregnancy SCD can become more severe resulting in more sickle cell vasoocclusive crisis. Prophylactic transfusion during pregnancy has been used in practice to reduce sickle cell pain crisis since hydroxyurea is contraindicated during pregnancy. However, using prophylactic red blood cell exchange (RBCX) has been a controversial topic. In this study, we aim to evaluate the outcomes of red blood cell exchange in pregnant patients with SCD


This is a retrospective study. We evaluated the charts of three pregnant patients who were enrolled in the chronic RBCX program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at the time of their pregnancy. Data was collected to assess the sickle cell disease related complications during pregnancy, outcomes of pregnancy, and safety of the red blood cell exchange.


A total of 19 exchange procedures were performed for three pregnant patients while being enrolled in the chronic red blood cell exchange program. Patients demographic is summarized in table 1. The indication for enrollment in the red cell exchange program were recurrent vasooclussive crisis in patient 1 and 3, avascular necrosis in patient 2. The pregnancies were uncomplicated except for preeclampsia in the third patient resulting on early delivery. Overall, the three patients had less frequent visits to the emergency room for sickle cell related complications after starting apheresis and during pregnancy (Figure 1). We believe that the modest improvement that was noticed for the third patient was due to late enrollment in the exchange transfusion program and her older age compared to the two other patients


Our study shows that red blood cell exchange for SCD patients during pregnancy can be safe, feasible, and can reduce the visits to the emergency room due to SCD related complication. Further larger studies are warranted to confirm this.


Gundabolu:BioMarin:Consultancy;Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceuticals:Consultancy.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.