Justin Kreuter, M.D., Medical Director of Mayo’s Blood Donor Program, recently commented on a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests transfusing critically ill patients with the freshest available red cells, rather than with standard-issue (oldest available) red cells, provides no clinically meaningful benefits.
Dr. Kreuter told Medscape Medical News, "This multicenter study adds a lot of clarity to a topic that hits home for our transfusion medicine community."
He emphasized that the current standard practice of issuing blood "first in, first out" ensures that the greatest number of blood donations are transfused. "However, our primary duty is to our patients," he stressed. "This study affirms that our standard practice of issuing oldest blood units, which ensures optimal use of our limited blood inventories, is also best for our patients."
He expressed surprise that younger units of blood were associated with significantly more febrile nonhemolytic transfusion reactions. "Although this type of reaction is not fatal, it can be uncomfortable for patients and certainly increases blood wastage," he noted.