BACKGROUNDWorldwide, prospective blood donors are screened for blood transfusion-transmissible diseases. In addition, predonation fitness requires adequate haematocrit and, in the tropics, negative screening for microfilaria that may precipitate allergy. The high prevalence of anaemia and microfilaria, though treatable, has contributed to the dearth of eligible blood donors. This study aims to characterize anaemia in prospective blood donors rejected for anaemia and find haematological effects of microfilarial infestation in prospective blood donors.METHODSThis prospective study was carried out from 1st of August to November 30th, 2002 at the blood transfusion unit of the Haematology Department of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife. All consenting prospective blood donors that were rejected for anaemia and or microfilaria infestation during the study period were studied for their age, sex and haematological profile. A randomly selected population of successful donors was similarly studied.RESULTSSixty rejected prospective blood donors (5.2% of the total screened)) were studied. Forty-five (75%) of them were rejected for anaemia alone, 10 (16.7%) for microfilaria alone and 5 (8.3%) for both anaemia and microfilaria. The mean ages of those rejected were 33.3(+/- 9.9) years for anaemia alone, 29.9(+/- 8.5) years for microfilaria alone and 35.4(+/- 8.3) years for those with anaemia and microfilaria combined. The mean age of the successful group was 28.9(+/- 8.5) years. Of the 60 rejected subjects, 53 were males while 7 were females. Blood film of the anaemia group revealed features suggestive of iron deficiency anaemia (hypochromic microcytic cells) in 60% of them. The white cell count (WCC) was significantly increased in the microfilarial group compared to others and it revealed lymphocytosis and eosinophilia.CONCLUSIONThe importance of these findings have been discussed in line with the existing literature. The need for intensive health education to encourage voluntary donation and promote the interest of females in blood donation is emphasized.