Lifeblood has now transitioned to a 7-day shelf life for platelet components.
This change has been almost 10 years in the making, with the first submission to the TGA being made back in 2013. Fast forward 8 years and a second submission, and we now have TGA and NBA approval to implement a Large Volume Delayed Sampling (LVDS) strategy for bacterial contamination screening (BCS) for our platelets, so that we can safely extend the shelf life to 7 days.
Storing platelets at room temperature, makes these components more susceptible to bacterial growth than other blood components that are stored refrigerated or frozen. By implementing the LVDS strategy (taking a larger sample volume at a later time), we are increasing our ability to detect low levels of bacterial contamination and therefore safely extend the shelf life from 5 to 7 days.
A number of international blood services, such as Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, have successfully implemented 7-day platelets, which supports that the platelet quality and efficacy is not impacted by the extended shelf life. This change will bring Australia in line with international practice. It will also enable Lifeblood to provide an improved service to our customers by increasing the usable shelf-life, and minimising component wastage due to expiry.
While the planning to extend platelet shelf-life had been underway by the Testing Strategy Review and Testing Enhancement projects for some time, COVID-19 became a significant motivator to kickstart implementation, to help minimise the impacts on platelet transport routes into remote areas such as NT and Far North QLD.
Lifeblood originally introduced universal bacterial contamination screening of our platelet components in 2008. Bacterial contamination of platelets is recognised as the most significant residual infectious risk of transfusion in developed countries, with bacterial sepsis second only to ABO incompatibility as a cause of death from transfusion. With the implementation of LVDS and 7-day platelets, Lifeblood is introducing another significant step in improving the safety and reliability of the blood supply in Australia.*