Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) suffer from anemia and painful vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) and sometimes need blood transfusions. Delayed hemolytic transfusion reaction (DHTR) is a rare life-threatening complication observed in SCD and mimics VOC. We describe a female SCD patient undergoing three surgical procedures during which DHTR developed following the first two. Prior to a planned tonsillectomy, she received transfusion and three days after surgery developed severe hemolysis as well as pain and respiratory symptoms. On suspicion of VOC, she received additional transfusions and became hemodynamically unstable, and her hemolytic anemia worsened. Gradually, she recovered and could be discharged after two weeks; DHTR was not suspected. Sixteen months later, an arthroplasty was performed due to avascular necrosis, and again she was transfused preoperatively. Similar to the initial surgery, she developed symptoms and signs of VOC after three days, but this time, DHTR was suspected and further transfusions were withheld. Although immunosuppressive medication did not alleviate the condition, she improved on combined treatment with darbepoietin, rituximab, and eculizumab. Six months later, a second arthroplasty was performed uneventfully after prophylaxis with rituximab and without transfusion. DHTR should be considered in the presence of severe, unexplained hemolysis following a recent transfusion, and additional transfusions in this setting should be given only on vital indication.
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