In blood banking, shelf life refers to the maximum time from collection of the blood product until the product must be discarded (the “expiration time”). There has been much discussion in recent years about whether the traditional shelf life standards should be changed, as red blood cells in particular are often in pretty bad shape at the end of their 42 day shelf life. Recent studies, however, have failed to show a significant clinical outcome difference between those receiving older blood vs. “younger” blood. Blood banking students would be well advised to commit the shelf life and storage conditions of common blood products to memory.
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