A new study shows that heart surgery patients are more likely to die or suffer other problems if they get blood that has been sitting on the shelf for more than two weeks. The study, entitled Duration of Red-Cell Storage and Complications After Cardiac Surgery, was published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.
From the linked Washington Post article:
A number of hospitals have re-evaluated long-standing practices and taken steps to minimize transfusions. One example: Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina has reduced its use of transfused blood products by 17 percent in the past 3 1/2 years.
Concern about the safety of older blood for cardiac patients is one reason for the change at Duke, said Dr. Sunil Rao, a Duke assistant professor of medicine who runs the cardiac catheterization labs at the Durham VA Medical Center.
If you will require a transfusion in the near future, this would be a good thing to ask your doctor and hospital about to find out their policy.