Product usage

The Product Usage research team focuses on the use of blood products in patients. Our researchers analyse how donor variation, product processing and storage can contribute to patient outcomes. The knowledge gained from this research provides data on effective transfusion practice, identifies the most effective products for certain clinical settings and helps us understand the usage for products that are in high demand, such as O Rh(D) negative red cells.

Research leader

Prof David Irving
Dr Rena Hirani
Dr Wayne Dyer
Elizabeth Knight

Current research

Frozen platelets on trial
Lifeblood researchers are working with scientists from the University of Queensland in a trial of frozen platelets in patients having cardiac surgery. Platelets are the component of blood that help stop active bleeding after trauma or surgery. Lifeblood researchers have gained particular expertise in the cryopreservation of platelets, which are the most difficult component of blood to freeze and thaw successfully. If the technology is proven successful in the clinical trial, it has the potential to revolutionise blood management, particularly in remote and rural hospitals. Read more

Eyedrops made from blood
Serum isolated from blood can be helpful as eye drops for people with severe dry eye syndrome, a condition which affects over 7 percent of Australians.Over the last few years, Lifeblood has been manufacturing eye drops for patients made from their own serum, packaged into single use droppers which they can freeze and keep for a year. For patients who are not able to make a plasma donation, Lifeblood is conducting a clinical trial of eye drops made from donor serum. Read more

Better management of the blood supply
For Lifeblood to make sure we have the right product at the right time, we need to understand how our blood products are used in hospitals. The demand for O Rh(D) negative red cells (the universal donor) now represents almost 16% of total red cell demand. Given that only nine percent of the donor pool are O Rh(D) negative, this group requires particular attention to maintain a balance between supply and demand. This year our researchers tracked the fate of all O Rh(D) negative blood units in Australia over a five week period. The findings will help us develop inventory management policies in collaboration with hospitals. Read more

Data linkages
Understanding how our blood products are used, and the outcomes for transfused patients, can help policy makers ensure that our health system makes the best use of resources. For example, during 2015-2016, our researchers and their collaborators at the Kolling Institute and the Clinical Excellence Commission completed a four year study to improve the medical treatment of mothers who bleed during childbirth. The study will help doctors improve decisions on when, and to whom, they should give blood transfusions. The study looked at whether the quantities of blood given were appropriate, whether that blood was given under the right conditions, and what the outcomes were following those transfusions. By understanding how blood is being used in this situation, we can contribute to informing guidelines for clinical practice.

Does removing white cells make transfusion safer?
One undesirable outcome associated with blood transfusion is the persistence of donor white cells in the transfusion recipient, known as microchimerism. The development of this condition is a significant risk for multiply transfused patients. Since 2008, white blood cells have been removed from red blood cell units by filtration before transfusion (leucodepletion) to minimise this risk. This research has found that despite the introduction of leucodepletion, microchimerism still occurs in massively transfused patients. Studies are underway to find out the characteristics of the white cells which remain in filtered red blood cell units to improve our understanding of how microchimerism develops.


Selected publications

Hirani R, Balogh ZJ, Lott NJ, Hsu JM, Irving DO (2014) Leukodepleted blood components do not remove the potential for long-term transfusion-associated microchimerism in Australian major trauma patients. Chimerism 5(3-4):86-93 doi:10.1080/19381956.2015.1052210 epub 2015 Aug 7

Patterson JA, Irving DO, Isbister JP, et al. (2015) Age of blood and adverse outcomes in a maternity population. Transfusion 55(11):2730-7 doi:10.1111/trf.13230

Bowen JR, Patterson JA, Roberts CL, Isbister JP, Irving DO, Ford JB (2015) Red cell and platelet transfusions in neonates: a population-based study. Archives of disease in childhood Fetal and neonatal edition 100(5):F411-5 doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-307716

Kaukonen KM, Bailey M, Ady B, et al. (2014) A randomised controlled trial of standard transfusion versus fresher red blood cell use in intensive care (TRANSFUSE): protocol and statistical analysis plan. Critical care and resuscitation : journal of the Australasian Academy of Critical Care Medicine 16(4):255-6

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