PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Refrigerated whole blood may have a shelf life well beyond the current standard of 24 to 48 hours, U.S. researchers say.
Study leader Dr. David Jobes, a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist in the Cardiac Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says a majority of patients receiving blood transfusions only require specific components of whole blood, such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets, but whole blood may be preferable for infant heart surgery or combat casualties.
The definition of freshness of whole blood with respect to its clotting properties has not been systematically studied, but many assume a fresh whole blood shelf life of 48 hours when refrigerated. After 48 hours, red blood cells may be recovered from the whole blood, but plasma and platelets must be discarded, Jobes says.
Jobes and colleagues used 21 units of whole blood from healthy volunteer donors. The study found that thromboelastography and platelet aggregation levels, which measure the efficiency of blood coagulation, remain normal at least 11 days under standard refrigerated conditions.
"We have found that whole blood retains its clotting properties at least 11 days under standard refrigeration," Jobes says in a statement. "If this lab discovery can be confirmed in human subjects, it may lead to a change in clinical practice and possibly to improved survival for massively transfused patients."
The findings are published in the journal Transfusion.
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