Conference Coverage

Fresh RBCs offer no benefit over older cells in pediatric ICU



SAN ANTONIO – Fresh red cells were no better than conventional stored red cells when transfused into critically ill children, and there was some evidence in the ABC PICU trial suggesting that fresh red cells could be associated with a higher incidence of posttransfusion organ dysfunction.

Dr. Philip Spinella of Washington University, St. Louis

Dr. Philip Spinella

Among 1,461 children randomly assigned to receive RBC transfusions with either fresh cells (stored for 7 days or less) or standard-issue cells (stored anywhere from 2-42 days), there were no differences in the primary endpoint of new or progressive multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (NPMODS), reported Philip Spinella, MD from Washington University, St. Louis.

“Our results do not support current blood management policies that recommend providing fresh red cell units to certain populations of children,” he said at the annual meeting of AABB, the group formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks.

The study findings support those of a systematic review (Transfus Med Rev. 2018;32:77-88), whose authors found that “transfusion of fresher RBCs is not associated with decreased risk of death but is associated with higher rates of transfusion reactions and possibly infection.” The authors of the review concluded that “the current evidence does not support a change from current usual transfusion practice.”

Is fresh really better?

The launch of the ABC PICU trial was motivated by laboratory and observational evidence suggesting that older RBCs may be less safe or efficacious than fresh RBCs, especially in vulnerable populations such as critically ill children.

Although physician and institutional practice has been to transfuse fresh RBCs to some pediatric patients, the standard practice among blood banks has been to deliver the oldest stored units first, in an effort to prevent product wastage.

Dr. Spinella and colleagues across 50 centers in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, and Israel enrolled patients who were admitted to a pediatric ICU who received their first RBC transfusion within 7 days of admission and had an expected length of stay after transfusion of more than 24 hours.

The median patient age was 1.8 years for those who received fresh cells, and 1.9 years for those who received usual care.

There were 1,630 transfusions of fresh RBCs stored for a median of 5 days and 1,533 transfusions of standard RBCs stored for a median of 18 days. The median volume of red cell units transfused was 17.5 mL/kg in the fresh group and 16.6 mL/kg in the standard group.

The incidence of NPMODS was 20.2% for fresh-RBC recipients and 18.2% for standard-product recipients. The absolute difference of 2.0% was not statistically significant.

There were also no significant differences in the timing of NPMODS occurrence between the groups, and no significant differences by patient age (28 days or younger, 29-365 days old, or older than 1 year).

Similarly, there were no differences in NPMODS incidence between the groups by country, although in Canada there was a trend toward a higher incidence of organ dysfunction in the group that received fresh RBCs, Dr. Spinella noted.

Additionally, there were no significant differences between the groups by admission to the ICU by medical, surgical, cardiac, or trauma services; no differences by quartile of red cell volume transfused; and no differences in mortality rates either in the ICU or the main hospital, or at 28 or 90 days after discharge.


Next Article: