Blood Stored For Long Periods May Be Dangerous For Patients

Medical problems can arise due to blood transfusion

A new research shows the possibility of medical problems that may be caused due to transfusion of blood stored for an extended period. Storing the blood for longer durations causes the breakdown of red blood cells during storage. Therefore, researchers mention that finding new methods to store blood is necessary.

Possible medical conditions

Transfusion of old blood can lead to problems, which can include infections, lung or renal failure, and even death. The study led by the Wake Forest University examined the interaction of nitric oxide and the by-products released due to the breakdown of red blood cells over an extended period. This interaction possibly reduces the flow of blood and may damage the bodily tissues.

Effects of the breakdown

Dr. Mark T. Gladwin who led this study mentions that when the blood is stored for long durations, some of the cells breakdown, thereby releasing their contents. These contents may include hemoglobin molecules, and micro particles found within the red blood cells. These contents are stored in the bag that contains the blood, which are then transferred to the patients’ bodies during the blood transfusion. Dr. Gladwin, who is the chief of the pulmonary, allergy, and critical care division at University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, said that these contents are very harmful when released in an individual’s bloodstream.

Havoc created by the breakdown of red blood cells

The hemoglobin and the micro particles that are released in the bloodstream while transfusing old blood create significant damage to the receivers. This includes destruction of nitric oxide, which is a crucial molecule within a human body. Nitric oxide is beneficial to dilate the blood vessels that are important for the smooth flow of blood within the body.

Blood transfusion is a common phenomenon

One of the commonest medical treatment methods is the transfusion of stored blood. The study mentioned that more than five million American citizens receive blood transfusions annually. Therefore, it is necessary to find solutions to store blood for longer durations without damaging the properties of the blood. The new methods must focus on restoring the activity of the nitric oxide that is lost during the transfusion procedure. In addition, preventive solutions that limit the breakdown of red blood cells must be developed. Another possible method to store the blood for longer periods may be to discover certain agents that can provide scavenge free hemoglobin.