Although extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been associated with improved outcomes in COVID patients with respiratory failure, data regarding the need for blood product utilization in this population is inadequate.
We conducted a retrospective review of all COVID patients requiring ECMO support at our facility. Patient demographics, co-morbidities, measures of acuity, and blood product utilization were identified. Patients were stratified by the presence of a major bleed and the need for dialysis. The primary outcome was blood product utilization. Linear regression models were used to assess predictors of the need for blood products.
From 2020 to 2021, 41 patients with COVID-19 were included in our study. Overall 1601 d of support, COVID ECMO patients received 755 units of packed red blood cells (PRBC), 51 units of fresh frozen plasma (FFP), 326 platelets, and 1702 cryoprecipitate, amounting to 18.4 units PRBC per patient or 3.30 units per week of ECMO support. Both major bleeding and the need for dialysis were associated with higher rates of transfusion of PRBC, FFP, and platelets. The average non-bleeding COVID ECMO patient who did not need dialysis required 2.17 units of PRBC, 0.12 units of FFP, 0.76 platelets, and 8.36 of cryoprecipitate per week of ECMO support. On multivariable linear regression analysis, each day on ECMO was associated with 0.30 [0.19-0.42, P < 0.01] units of PRBC.
In conclusion, COVID ECMO is associated with a significant need for blood and blood products. Major bleeding and dialysis are important drivers of blood product requirements.