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Transfusions of 'Older' Blood Don't Work as Well
Date:3/19/2008

Mortality, complication rates higher than with freshly stored units, study finds

WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Heart-surgery patients who get transfusions of blood that has been stored for more than 14 days do worse than those who get newer blood, a new study shows.

In-hospital death rates, incidence of complications and long-term death rates were higher for those getting older blood, conclude physicians at the Cleveland Clinic.

While other studies have shown the same effect, "we're not necessarily advocating a policy change at this time," said Dr. Colleen Gorman Koch, vice chairman of education and research at the clinic's department of cardiothoracic anesthesia.

But Koch said she and her colleagues are conducting a controlled trial that could lead to a change in the current policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which says that blood can be stored for as long as 42 days before transfusion.

The trial, which will closely track the condition of heart-surgery patients who get transfusions, will include 2,000 participants, Koch said. Fewer than 100 have been enrolled so far, and results are not expected for at least two years, she said.

The newly reported study, published in the March 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, examined almost 2,900 people who underwent coronary artery bypass procedures or heart valve operations and who got blood that had been stored for 14 days or less. They were compared with more than 3,100 people undergoing those procedures who got blood that had been stored for at least 14 days.

The study found that 2.8 percent of those getting older blood died in the hospital, compared to 1.7 percent of those getting fresher blood. The incidence of infection among the older-blood group was 4.0 percent, compared to 2.8 percent in the fresh-blood group. And in the year following the transfusions, 11.0 percent of those getting older blo
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