If you have a health diagnosis that requires you to have a blood transfusion, you may want to ask the age of the blood. According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, heart surgery patients who received blood transfusions that were two or more weeks old were more likely to die or suffer complications. Researchers believe that blood may deteriorate with age, and are looking at ways to get fresher blood to patients.
How can you tell if you’re getting old blood in a transfusion? You can always ask your doctor how old the blood is and request a fresher sample, but at this point the blood supply organizations aren’t able to provide a fresh supply at a moment’s notice. Some hospitals also allow you to donate your own blood in advance of a procedure, so you may want to ask about that as well.
If you’re uncomfortable knowing that you’re getting older blood, ask your doctor if there is another treatment available that avoids a transfusion. [MSNBC]