Background On 12 May 2008, a severe earthquake struck Sichuan in China. Many people donated blood for the first time, leading us to question whether these donors might become repeat donors in the future. The return pattern of post-earthquake first-time donors (PEFTD) was compared with that of first-time donors (FTD) in a comparable period. Methods Demographic characteristics, transfusion-transmissible infection rates and 1-year return rates were compared between 5147 PEFTD (5/13-5/19, 2008) and 3176 FTD (5/13-5/19, 2009) from five Chinese blood centres using chi-squared tests. Adjusted logistic regression was used to detect earthquake effect on donor return. Results Post-earthquake first-time donors were more frequently between 26 and 45years, men, and better educated compared with the control group. Slightly higher but not statistically significant increased rates of hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) (0·87% vs. 0·50%, P=0·054), hepatitisC virus (HCV) (0·70% vs. 0·63%, P=0·414), syphilis (0·9% vs. 0·7%, P=0·489) and lower rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (0·31% vs. 0·60%, P=0·078) reactivity were detected for PEFTD. The 1-year return rate for PEFTD was significantly lower than that of the controls (8·0% vs. 13·0%, P<0·001). After adjusting for demographic factors, donation volume and sites, the PEFTD were less likely to return in 1year than the controls (OR: 0·520; 95% CI: 0·442, 0·611). Conclusion Post-earthquake first-time donors may be less likely to donate again without continuing motivation strategies. Further studies on PEFTD's lack of motivation to return for donation are needed to design recruitment strategies to convert PEFTD to become repeat donors to continuously replenish the blood supply.
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