Serial prophylactic exchange blood transfusion in pregnant women with sickle cell disease (TAPS-2): Study protocol for a randomised controlled feasibility trial

Laura L. Oakley*, Moji Awogbade, Sarah Brien, Annette Briley, Maria Chorozoglou, Emma Drasar, Jemma Johns, Elizabeth Rhodes, Vicky Robinson, Paul Seed, Joseph Sharif, Claire Singh, Paul Telfer, Hilary Thompson, Ingrid Watt-Coote, Jo Howard, Eugene Oteng-Ntim

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Pregnancies in women with sickle cell disease (SCD) are associated with a higher risk of sickle and pregnancy complications. Limited options exist for treating SCD during pregnancy. Serial prophylactic exchange blood transfusion (SPEBT) has been shown to be effective in treating SCD outside pregnancy, but evidence is lacking regarding its use during pregnancy. The aim of this study is to assess the feasibility and acceptability of conducting a future phase 3 randomised controlled trial (RCT) to establish the clinical and cost effectiveness of SPEBT in pregnant women with SCD. Methods: The study is an individually randomised, two-arm, feasibility trial with embedded qualitative and health economic studies. Fifty women, 18 years of age and older, with SCD and a singleton pregnancy at ≤ 18 weeks' gestation will be recruited from six hospitals in England. Randomisation will be conducted using a secure online database and minimised by centre, SCD genotype and maternal age. Women allocated to the intervention arm will receive SPEBT commencing at ≤ 18 weeks' gestation, performed using automated erythrocytapheresis every 6-10 weeks until the end of pregnancy, aiming to maintain HbS% or combined HbS/HbC% below 30%. Women in the standard care arm will only receive transfusion when clinically indicated. The primary outcome will be the recruitment rate. Additional endpoints include reasons for refusal to participate, attrition rate, protocol adherence, and maternal and neonatal outcomes. Women will be monitored throughout pregnancy to assess maternal, sickle, and foetal complications. Detailed information about adverse events (including hospital admission) and birth outcomes will be extracted from medical records and via interview at 6 weeks postpartum. An embedded qualitative study will consist of interviews with (a) 15-25 trial participants to assess experiences and acceptability, (b) 5-15 women who decline to participate to identify barriers to recruitment and (c) 15-20 clinical staff to explore fidelity and acceptability. A health economic study will inform a future cost effectiveness and cost-utility analysis. Discussion: This feasibility study aims to rigorously evaluate SPEBT as a treatment for SCD in pregnancy and its impact on maternal and infant outcomes. Trial registration: NIH registry (, registration number NCT03975894 (registered 05/06/19); ISRCTN (, registration number ISRCTN52684446 (retrospectively registered 02/08/19).

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2020


  • Blood transfusion
  • Economic evaluation
  • Feasibility
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Sickle cell disease


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