An international study led by McMaster University has found that when it comes to blood, old is as good as new.
The three year study took a look at more than 31 thousand patients across four countries.
Transfusions were conducted using both old and fresh blood.
Researchers found that the fresh blood didn’t reduce the number of patients who died in hospital.
Lead Author Nancy Heddle believes it’s reassuring.
“If the studies had shown that fresh blood was better and all these other studies had used a cut point of defining fresh as less than eight days,” says Heddle, “it would have been extremely difficult for blood suppliers to be able to have enough blood that was eight days or less sitting in hospitals.”
The long held belief that fresher blood is better stems from the changes cells undergo while in storage according to Heddle.
“Those cells take on different shapes and have different biochemical profiles, they still function properly, they’re given to patients to deliver oxygen…and obviously they are still doing that” she said.
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a mortality rate of 9.1 per cent for those receiving the freshest blood and 8.7 among those given older blood.
These findings Heddle says, mean that “our current system doesn’t need to change in terms of storing blood.”