Theme 2: What Donor and Donation Factors to Consider for Adequate Blood Supply and Demand

The author stressed that maintaining the balance between supply and demand is a key component when planning for transfusion services during a pandemic.

Although donor attendance fell, the supply was compensated in the early stages of the pandemic, as elective surgery and medical treatment decreases reduced the demand for blood. The authors noted that some areas have noticed a shortage but overall, blood supply has been maintained.

“Donor screening and testing strategies, the management of postdonation information for donors diagnosed with COVID-19, and changes in other transfusion practices are based on theoretical or confirmed risks of transmission,” the authors wrote.

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Although changing applied practices that protect donors and recipients, such as eligibility criteria, may counteract the effects that the pandemic might have on blood availability, the investigators noted that any changes should be discussed with relevant stakeholders.

Theme 3: Preventing Blood Shortage by Modifying Production, Specification, and Storage

A challenge of maintaining blood supply during a pandemic could be the alterations in processing and storage of blood components. Minimizing waste could be achieved by temporarily extending the component shelf life.

Considering a shelf life extension for red blood cells should be done early on. For platelets, the authors suggested extending shelf life from 5 days to 7 days, as long as necessary bacterial testing or pathogen inactivation was performed. To extend shelf life to 8 days, review of internal laboratory data is suggested to guide feasibility.

To increase the supply of platelets for prophylactic transfusions, they recommended reducing the dose of platelets by splitting the existing components. For patients with bleeding, they consider the use of cold-stored platelets with 7 to 14 days shelf life. Frozen platelets should only be considered for bleeding patients.

Because frozen plasma can have several years of shelf life, it is a more flexible component than others. “Consider use of liquid (never frozen) plasma if freezer capacity or staff plasma are in short supply,” suggested the researchers.