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Water Use In Blood Fractionation

An interesting fact is that of the millions of pints of blood donated per year approximately 10 percent of the blood is lost due to the fact that it becomes outdated before it can be used. This loss is not negligence or inefficiency. This loss is a result form the fact that human blood by present day methods of storage of 4oC will only keep for 21 days before becoming unusable.

At about -80oC red blood cells can be stored for almost indefinitely. While maintaining a temperature such as this is not problematic with today's cooling equipment keeping blood cells at this temperature without damaging them is a challenge. This is because as the temperature drops ice crystals form in the cells. This causes the cells to rupture and/or can change the salt concentration inside. Either way the results are often detrimental to the red blood cells being stored.  

One surefire way to avoid this is to exchange the cells water content temporarily using a substance that does not freeze nor leave the cells unfit for use later. For this to occur a purified glycerol is used. Blood that has been treated this way can be stored for four years or more and has been used in transfusions with excellent results.

This technique uses centrifugation of blood in special fractionation equipment. What occurs is that whole blood cells and plasma enter an expendable plastic liner in the fractional chamber. The blood separate into tow fractions while spinning. Red cells will clump along the outer perimeter of the spinning liner. Plasma will drain out from the liner near the center of the rotation. Once all the plasma is drained off the red cell mass is infused with biopure water solutions of glycerol all while slowly increasing the concentrations.

This infusion will continue until the glycerol concentration is 35% in the red blood cells. This is when the plastic liner is removed from the fractionator and refrigerated at -80oC. Plasma collected this way is saved and refrigerated seperatley. When the cells are needed they are thawed out at room temperature placed in the liner again and into the fractionator. Then the infusion process is reversed. The glycerols is removed during a series of rinses with each one containing less glycerol at its completion.The solvent used can be any one of several parenteral fluids made with biopure water or it can be a plasma fraction.

One interesting fact about this technique is that no cases of serum hepatitis have resulted from transfusions made with glycerolized blood. It seems that the glycerolization and deglycerolizatoin process eliminates the hepatitis virus.

Primer: Water Use In Research And Medicine
  • Water The Cleansing Agent
  • Water Use In Tissue Cell Culture
  • Water Usage In Pharmaceuticals
  • Pyrogens In Research And Medicine
  • Water Use In Blood Fractionation
  • Water Use In Cryobiology
  • General Use of Water in Research and Medicine

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