Does Old Blood Lead to More Health Problems?

Coffee Memorial CEO Jim Rutledge
Coffee Memorial CEO Jim Rutledge
Tana Garcia
Tana Garcia

Receiving blood more than two weeks old could make for more health problems in some heart surgery patients. That, according to new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new research is making headlines across the country. But here, the Coffee Memorial Blood Center says the research looked at a very narrow range of people.

And at the blood bank, blood often leaves the shelves before it hits eleven days old, which is what the study considers old.

A unit of blood, a pint, is allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to live on the shelf for up to six weeks. At Coffee Memorial, the shelf life is much shorter. CEO Jim Rutledge says "when we look at how long it's on our shelves it's about ten days."

But that does not mean they will discount the new findings. Rutledge says "it doesn't seem to be terribly significant here because of the population we serve but it needs to be looked at."

Rutledge says only in extreme circumstances is a transfusion needed, and by that time most patients will accept what is available, old or new.

That is exactly what Tana Garcia, who needed more than 100 units, did. She says "you can't be picky when your life depends on it, you take it wherever you can get it."

We spoke with BSA, and they said they will get a group of doctors together to examine the research before they decide to make any kind of change in protocol.