Save It-Don’t Waste It! Maximizing Utilization of Erythrocytes From Previously Stored Whole Blood





Recent military and civilian experience suggests that fresh whole blood may be the preferred for treatment of hemorrhagic shock, but its use is limited by its 21-day shelf life. The red blood cell storage lesion and coagulation status of packed red blood cells (pRBCs) salvaged from expired whole blood are unknown. We hypothesized that pRBCs can be salvaged from previously stored whole blood.


Cold stored, low-titer, O-positive, nonleukoreduced, whole blood units were obtained at 21 days of storage. Erythrocytes were separated by centrifugation, resuspended in AS-3, and stored for 21 additional days as salvaged pRBCs. The red blood cell storage lesion parameters of microvesicles, Band-3, free hemoglobin, annexin V, and erythrocyte osmotic fragility were measured and compared with pRBCs prepared at the time of donation and stored in AS-3 for 42 days (standard pRBCs). In additional experiments, murine pRBCs were prepared from expired whole blood units and compared with those stored under standard conditions. Mice underwent hemorrhage and resuscitation with standard and salvaged pRBC units, and serum cytokines and free hemoglobin were determined.


There were no significant differences in microvesicle formation or cell-free hemoglobin concentration between salvaged and standard pRBCs. There was decreased Band-3 and increased phosphatidylserine in the salvaged units as well as greater osmotic fragility. Salvaged pRBCs maintained consistent clot firmness. After hemorrhage and resuscitation in a murine model, salvaged pRBCs did not demonstrate increased serum cytokine levels.


Salvaged pRBCs from previously stored whole blood accumulate the red blood cell storage lesion in a similar fashion to standard pRBCs and maintain consistent coagulability when reconstituted with plasma. Salvaged pRBCs are not associated with an increased inflammatory response when used for resuscitation in a murine model. Salvaged pRBCs may be a viable product for utilization in the treatment of traumatic hemorrhagic shock.

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