This term refers to thawed, previously frozen red blood cell (RBC) products processed to remove glycerol prior to transfusion. Glycerol protects RBCs during freezing and thawing, but it can cause hemolysis if not removed (“washed out”) before transfusion. Once a unit has been deglycerolized, it most commonly expires 24 hours from the start of the procedure (since this process is typically done in an “open” system), or in some cases as long as 14 days (if performed in a “closed” system).

This term is often confused with the term “washed,” which is understandable because washing and deglycerolization are actually fairly similar. A deglycerolized unit is essentially the same as a washed unit in that both essentially lack plasma, but units are washed for other reasons (for example, removing plasma proteins in those with severe allergic transfusion reactions or removing excess potassium in older units given to babies or patients with severe renal issues).

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