Blood donations could soon be kept for up to two years rather than a week.
Blood donations could soon be kept for up to two years rather than a week. Photo credit: NZ Blood


The New Zealand Blood Foundation (NZ Blood) has revealed a groundbreaking new method of storing blood, that will allow it to have a longer shelf life – from seven days to two years.

NZ Blood has created a new storage bag that allows blood donations to be frozen without any complications.

It’s a boon for hospitals, who use the blood for transfusions and post-operative emergency situations, such as open heart surgery.

Dr Richard Charlewood, Transfusion Medicine Specialist at NZ Blood, says the technological breakthrough has been “a triumph of Kiwi ingenuity”.

“Quite literally it will be revolutionary for our health services throughout regional New Zealand with rural hospitals able to have quick access to platelets,” he said.

“It will significantly reduce platelet wastage with the associated costs. Blood donations are precious, and no one wants to think their donation might not get used.”

Blood cells are currently kept at room temperature, require constant agitation and only have a shelf-life of seven days.

The short shelf-life means hospitals outside the main New Zealand health centres have extremely limited or no access to the life-saving blood donations.

Historically, freezing the blood has been problematic as the cells need to be combined with a precise amount of plasma that can only be done in specialist sterile facilities.

But the new bag has two chambers that each hold the exact level of cells and plasma. This allows the cells to be easily defrosted and mixed with the exact amount of plasma without need for a specialist sterile facility.