Preterm infants frequently require multiple blood transfusions. Traditionally, 'fresh' (less than seven days old) blood has been used but this often results in transfusions from multiple donors. To reduce donor exposure the policy for top-up transfusions was changed. A unit of blood under five days old with additional satellite packs was ordered for each infant and used up to its expiry date, allowing up to eight transfusions from a single donation to be given. The mean (SD) number of transfusions per infant in 43 infants transfused according to previous policy and in 29 transfused according to the new policy was similar at 5.6 (4.0) and 5.3 (3.1), respectively. However, donor exposure fell following the change in policy from 4.9 (3.5) to only 2.0 (0.9). Only one infant was exposed to more than three donors compared with 24 infants in the control group. Plasma potassium concentrations were not significantly different following transfusion of blood stored for up to 33 days. This simple change in policy has reduced donor exposure in infants requiring multiple top-up transfusions.
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