Tests Aim To Settle If Fresher Blood Works Better

WASHINGTON (AP) - There's growing concern that blood transfusion patients who receive older blood may not do as well as patients who receive fresher blood.

Hospitals throughout the country are taking part in a study in hopes of discovering whether the age of blood does make a difference. The multi-million-dollar research on how the breakdown of older blood affects its ability to carry oxygen is spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Simone Glynn of NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says donated blood saves lives every day but the goal is having "the safest product possible."

The Food and Drug Administration allows red blood cells to be stored for up to 42 days, and hospitals almost always use the oldest blood first to ensure that as little as possible expires.

Fifteen hospitals will recruit 1,800 patients about to have heart surgery who agree to be randomly assigned to receive older blood or newer blood to see if there's a difference in how they fare.

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