Rebecca Cardigan, BSc, PhD; Sheila Maclennan , MBBS, FRCP, FrCPath


Transfusion Alter Transfusion Med. 2008;10(3):92-101. 

In This Article

Whole-blood Collection, Storage and Processing

European and American guidelines recommend that the volume of whole blood collected is between 450 and 500 mL ± 10%.[1,2,3] Blood is collected into an anticoagulant comprised of citrate, phosphate and dextrose designed to prevent blood from clotting and maintain cellular function during storage. Adenine may also be added to the anticoagulant to improve the quality of red cells during storage if other solutions are not added during later processing steps. It is generally accepted that there are very few clinical indications for transfusion of whole blood, and the vast majority of blood is therefore processed into its basic components: red cells, platelets and plasma. This is achieved by centrifugation of whole blood in the primary collection pack, followed by manual or automated extraction of the components into satellite packs.

The initial storage temperature of whole blood determines which components can be produced from it (Figure 1). Because platelet function rapidly deteriorates at 4°C, whole blood must be processed on the day of blood collection or stored overnight at 22°C for platelet production. However, for the production of red cells, whole blood can be stored at 4°C for 48-72 hours prior to separation. Plasma is generally separated from whole blood on the day of collection or from blood that has been stored at 22°C for up to 24 hours, as these methods have been shown to preserve plasma quality. In the USA, 'liquid plasma' (which has not been frozen) and thawed plasma are also available for use when transfusion of labile clotting factors (e.g. factors V and VIII) is not required. The storage of temperature, media and shelf life of blood components is tailored to each type of component, so that there is preservation of component quality while affording the maximal usable shelf life.

Figure 1.

Production of components from whole blood.


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