Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio are exploring modern inventory management strategies to reduce blood storage time as well. This new approach is also to avoid complications that can arise from age of stored blood, thanks to changes in its makeup.
This study, published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the researchers conclude, “Stored blood undergoes changes, meaning that transfusion of older red blood cells may result in the delivery of high concentrations of red blood cell components such as hemoglobin, free iron and red blood cell fragments. These components may contribute to adverse clinical events observed in a number of investigations.”
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has set the shelf-life of red blood cells at 42 days but is dependent on supply and demand as well. It should be pointed out that blood groups that are less common are kept for much longer.
But the researchers cannot recommend changes to the FDA concerning blood storage as the evidence to complications arising from a longer period of storage is very little.
So until they obtain concrete evidence, by means of randomized controlled trials, the only option that researchers see fit is to work with the current inventory in order to keep it as fresh as possible in order avoid the complications that have arisen with surgical procedures in the past.
In 2011, it was revealed that almost 21 million blood components were used for transfusion as medicine continues to make progress in its efforts to combat disease. In the United States alone, 41000 units of blood are used every day to treat patients in hospitals and emergency facilities.