Older blood as good as new: no harmful effects of storage time before transfusion

What is this research about?

After blood is collected from donors, red blood cells are isolated from the blood and stored at 4°C in a solution containing anti-clotting agents and nutrients. This allows the cells to survive for several weeks (up to 42 days) before transfusion. Red blood cell transfusions help save lives at risk due to severe blood loss, low red blood cell levels as a result of chemotherapy, or diseases related to dysfunctional red blood cells.

During storage, red blood cells remain biologically active and gradually use up their energy stores. The red blood cell membranes become more fragile, and some cells burst, releasing their contents into the storage bag. These accumulated changes are referred to as the “storage lesion”. However, it is unclear whether these cellular changes have any effect on transfusion outcome.

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