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Old blood is as good as new
November 21, 2016, 1:30 pm

There has been a long held view that when blood transfusions are needed, it may be best to use the freshest blood, but new research reveals that this is not true.

The study, which examined almost 31,500 patients at six hospitals in four countries, showed that having a transfusion with the freshest blood did not reduce the proportion of patients who died in hospital.

Though it has been a contentious issue for long, the new research finally puts an end to the question about whether stored blood could be harmful and fresher blood would be better. The study provides strong evidence which should reassure clinicians that ‘fresher is not better’ and that transfusion of fresh blood does not improve patient outcomes.

The new study comes as good news to blood suppliers worldwide as having a supply of stored blood helps to ensure that blood is available when a patient needs it.

The study showed mortality rate was 9.1 percent with people receiving the freshest blood, and 8.7 percent among those receiving the oldest blood. There was no significant difference when looking at the patients' blood type, diagnosis, hospital or country.

Blood transfusions are a common medical intervention and advances in blood storage now allow blood to be stored up to 42 days before transfusion. The usual practice is to use up the blood that has been in storage the longest. But, because there are biochemical, structural and functional changes in the blood during storage, there had been concerns about the use of 'older' blood.

The new study will hopefully reassure blood banks and doctors that aging blood is not bad blood.

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