Transportation of blood components

An Inventory & Distribution staff preparing a blood shipper

Blood components are usually transported under similar temperature conditions as when they are stored.

Cardboard boxes with thermal insulation inserts and various configurations of frozen and chilled coolant packs are used to maintain temperature.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service national shipper configurations ensure that blood components remain within the required temperature specification during transportation.

There are several packing configurations, the use of which will depend on the:

  • Component type
  • Ambient temperature
  • Number of components
  • Anticipated transit time

Red cell configurations R1 to R4 maintain components within a temperature range of 2 ºC to 10 ºC.

Platelet configurations P1 and P2 maintain components within a temperature range of 20 ºC to 24 ºC.

Frozen component configurations F1 and F2 maintain components at –25 ºC. Configuration F2 requires dry ice.

Data loggers are used to continually record the internal temperature for shipments if the anticipated transport time is expected to exceed the maximum transport time.

If the data logger shows that the temperature specifications have been exceeded, the data is analysed and a judgement is made on whether the contents are suitable for use.

The Blood Service's shippers can be used by laboratories to transport blood components between laboratories and hospitals. When doing so, ensure blood components are packed using one of the validated packing configurations.

Where other shipper configurations are used to transport blood components, they should be validated for the appropriate time and conditions.

For hospitals without a laboratory onsite and who wish to return unused blood components to another hospital, please consult with your transfusion service provider for instructions.