Old Blood Is Bad Blood: Study

Heart patients whose transfusions sat around have worse survival rates
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2008 6:08 AM CDT
Old Blood Is Bad Blood: Study
A small pint bag slowly fills with blood from a donor. The FDA has put 42 days down as the shelf life of donated blood, but a new study may cut that time into just two weeks.   (KRT Photos)

Donated blood may have a much shorter shelf life than previously thought, finds a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Transfusions using blood at least two weeks old increased heart-surgery patients' post-operative death risk by 30%, researchers discovered, though the current expiration date for blood is 6 weeks after donation, reports USA Today.

The Cleveland Clinic team focused on heart patients around 70, prompting calls for additional research into other uses of donated blood. The American Red Cross calls the study "provocative," but cautions that "it's not really appropriate to conclude that old blood is bad." The next step will be a rigorous clinical trial, says the study's author. (More blood transfusions stories.)

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