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Old Blood Is Found to Induce Infections

Old blood is found to induce infections

October 28, 2008 (Source: StarTribune Website

Hospitalized patients who received blood that had been stored for more than four weeks were nearly three times as likely to develop infections as those who received fresher blood, researcher said Tuesday.

The blood itself was not infected, but the release of chemical agents called cytokines by the stored blood may have affected the recipient's immune systems, rendering them more susceptible to infections, said Dr. Racquel Nahra of the Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Ark.

**Question**
Do you think this is really true??? That people who receive "older" blood transfusions are more likely to be infected? Why/why not?


The patients typically had an increase in urinary tract infections, pneumonia and infections associated with intravenous lines, but those who were infected were no more likely to die, she told a Philadelphia meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

And while the apparent increase in risk was large, the overall number of infections remained small, she said.

Current rules permit blood to be stored for 42 days before it must be discarded. Blood banks typically use the oldest blood on hand first so it is not wasted.

The new study follows a March 2008 report that heart surgery patients who received blood that had been stored for more than two weeks were 64 percent more likely to die in the hospital than those who received fresher blood.

The differences in the studies highlights "a need for controlled studies on the effect of the age of blood on patient outcomes," said Dr. Richard J. Benjamin, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross.

But, he added, donated blood plays a key role in patient care and "physicians and patients need to weigh the potential benefits against the small risk of harm caused by transfusion."

The study, conducted at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. while Nahra was on staff there, included 422 patients in the medical/surgical intensive care unit who received stored blood between July 2003 and September 2006. Overall, 57 patients developed one or more infections while they were hospitalized.

Patients who received blood that was older than 32 days were 2.9 times more likely to develop an infection than those who received blood less than 28 days old, said Dr. David Gerber of Cooper University Hospital, the senior author of the study.