NIH Seeks to Improve Transfusion Safety

BETHESDA, Md., June 21 (UPI) — The U.S. National Institutes of Health says it is funding a research project to determine if storage time affects the safety of red blood cell transfusions.

Officials said the project supported by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is the first large, multicenter, randomized clinical trial to compare outcomes in heart surgery patients who receive transfusions of red blood cells that have been stored for shorter or longer amounts of time.

Research grants will provide about $3.9 million per year over four years to assess the safety and efficacy of red blood cell transfusions.

“These are the first research projects to systematically examine the storage- and preparation-dependent changes that red blood cell units undergo,” said Dr. Susan Shurin, acting director of the NHLBI. “These basic and translational studies embody the … goal to advance the science of blood safety in the nation. What we learn will help guide clinical practice.”

The trials will be led by Dr. Marie Steiner, a University of Minnesota Medical School associate professor. The trials will be conducted at multiple sites, including Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chapel Hill and Durham, N.C.; Iowa City, Iowa; Minneapolis; New York; New Brunswick, N.J.; Pittsburgh and Seattle.

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