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Jesus Fernandez-Sojo, Carmen Azqueta, Elena Valdivia, Lluis Martorell, Laura Medina-Boronat, Nuria Martínez-Llonch, Silvia Torrents, Margarita Codinach,Carme Canals, Izaskun Elorza, Rocio Parody, Rodrigo Martino, Maria Trabazo, Cristina Díaz de Heredia, Christelle Ferra, David Valcárcel, Mónica Linares, Águeda Ancochea, Enric García-Rey, Nadia García-Muñoz, Laura Medina, Nerea Castillo, Enric Carreras, Juliana Villa, Sergio Querol

Cryopreservation was recommended to ensure continuity of unrelated donor (UD) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) during COVID-19 pandemic. However, its impact on clinical outcomes and feasibility was not well known. We compared 32 patients who underwent UD HSCT using cryopreserved peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) during the COVID-19 pandemic with 32 patients who underwent UD HSCT using fresh PBSC in the previous period. Median neutrophil engraftment was 17.5 and 17.0 days with cryopreserved and fresh grafts, respectively. Non-significant delays were found in platelet recovery days (25.5 versus 19.0; P = 0.192) and full donor chimerism days (35.0 and 31.5; P = 0.872) using cryopreserved PBSC. The rate of acute graft-versus-host disease at 100 days was 41% (95% CI [21–55%]) in cryopreserved group versus 31% (95% CI [13–46%]) in fresh group (P = 0.380). One-hundred days progression-relapse free survival and overall survival did not differ significantly. During COVID-19 pandemic, six frozen UD donations were not transfused and logistical and clinical issues regarding cryopreservation procedure, packaging, and transporting appeared. In summary, UD HSCT with cryopreserved PBSC was safe during this challenging time. More efforts are needed to ensure that all frozen grafts are transplanted and cryopreservation requirements are harmonized.

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