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Citation Information : Immunohematology. Volume 25, Issue 1, Pages 13-17, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21307/immunohematology-2019-224
License : (Transfer of Copyright)
Published Online: 16-March-2020
The technology allowing freezing of RBC units has been available for many decades. The high-glycerol method for RBC storage at –80°C is predominantly used. Several studies have shown satisfactory results regarding the in vitro viability and function of cryopreserved RBCs. RBC freezing is nowadays mostly encountered in rare blood programs and military deployments. Preservation time of frozen RBCs appears to be virtually indefinite, but most countries apply a 10-year outdate. There is no mandatory time restriction in France. The National Rare Blood Bank currently includes 962 (17.5%) RBC units aged 10 years or more and 153 (2.8%) aged 20 years or more. Since 1994, 1957 RBC units have been thawed and transfused, among which 118 were aged 10 years or more and 8 were aged 20 years or more. Discarding RBC units older than 10 years may be highly sensitive for very rare blood groups, e.g., U–, of which approximately 30 percent of the cryopreserved units are aged 10 years or more. However, the lack of nucleic acid testing for HIV and HCV may be problematic for old RBC units drawn from donors who were not subsequently tested for these markers, which is now mandatory in most countries. Regarding the 118 transfused RBC units older than 10 years, no evidence of hemolysis of thawed RBCs and no transfusion reaction, clinical or biologic hemolysis, or transfusion ineffectiveness was reported, either by any of the parties involved in the transfusion supply of rare RBC units or through the French hemovigilance program, which requires a mandatory report of any transfusion reaction. It has recently been suggested to extend the 10-year restriction in some countries. Considering our experience and observational data, we may consider it safe and efficient to transfuse rare frozen RBC units older than 10 years. An international consensus for RBC cryopreservation time should ideally be established.