SOURCE: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, news release, March 17, 2015
TUESDAY, March 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Blood that's been stored for a few weeks is just as beneficial as fresh blood for patients with life-threatening conditions who require transfusions, a new study shows.
"There was no difference in mortality or organ dysfunction between the two groups, which means that fresh blood is not better than older blood," study co-leader Dr. Dean Fergusson, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, said in a research institute news release.
The findings offer reassurance about the safety of blood routinely given to critically ill patients, according to the researchers.
The study included more than 2,400 adult intensive care patients who received either older blood (stored an average of 22 days) or fresh blood (stored an average of six days). Over 90 days of follow-up, there were 398 deaths among the 1,219 patients who received older blood and 423 deaths among the 1,211 patients who received fresh blood.
The study was published online March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Previous observational and laboratory studies have suggested that fresh blood may be better because of the breakdown of red blood cells and accumulation of toxins during storage," study co-leader Dr. Alan Tinmouth, a physician and scientist at the research institute and the University of Ottawa, said in the news release. "But this definitive clinical trial clearly shows that these changes do not affect the quality of blood."
Under current standards, blood is stored up to 42 days, but many doctors ask for fresh blood because they feel it is better. This study shows there is no need to worry about the safety of older blood, the researchers said.
They are now examining the use of fresh and older blood in children.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about blood transfusion.