NIHR Signal - Transfusing blood close to its use-by date does not increase deaths in critically ill adults

Blood TransfusionPublished on 19 December 2017

Transfusing more recently-collected red blood cells does not improve the chance of survival for critically-ill people who need blood transfusions, compared with blood that has been stored for longer.

This large international study included almost 5,000 critically ill people in intensive care units. Participants were transfused with either the freshest compatible blood available (mean storage 11.8 days) or the oldest compatible stored blood within its use-by date (mean storage time 22.4 days).

There was no difference in deaths between the two groups. Almost a quarter of people died in each group by 90 days. There were also no differences in other outcomes such as length of stay in intensive care.

This provides strong evidence to support the practice of transfusing the oldest compatible red blood cells to minimise waste of precious and costly blood stocks when they become out-of-date. In the UK, this is up to 35 days from donation.

To read more about this, click here to go to the NIHR Dissemination Centre Discover Portal.

Back to top