Maintaining the integrity of blood

Maintaining the integrity of blood

Selecting high-performance products, like the technology currently available in cold storage equipment, is a critical step in maintaining blood supply.

As the world’s population grows each year, the need for blood components continues to escalate. Every two seconds, someone across the world needs blood. And one of the society’s most important priorities is to ensure that a safe, adequate supply of blood and blood products exists to meet this demand. There is no alternative product that can replace human blood, and the supply depends entirely on voluntary donations, which never fully meet demand.

This supply constraint, coupled with the limited shelf-life of blood components, often makes it difficult for blood centers across the world to establish stockpiles and maintain more than a few days’ supply to meet routine transfusion demands.

For years, health professionals have struggled to establish effective cold chains in developing countries to ensure that critical blood components and vaccines reach the most isolated populations. Lack of access to electricity and intermittent power supply in many of these countries greatly complicate establishing a cold chain with traditional electrically powered refrigeration.

India has less than one percent blood reserve, yet a lot of donated blood is wasted due to poor practices and lack of awareness on componentization. One of the major reasons for blood wastage has been the absence of maintaining the temperature of blood units during its shifting from the blood bank to the recipient department or on receiving it back at the blood bank owing to its non-utilization. There seems to be a lack of proper storage and handling facilities and qualified technicians at the hospital, and many of such units are destroyed by the blood bank because of reaching expiry date.

Thus, a high-performance refrigeration plays a large role in storage. Blood must be kept within 2°C to 6°C in order to be safe and effective for transfusion. If exposed to temperatures greater than 6°C, blood’s ability to carry oxygen is greatly reduced, and the probability of bacterial contamination is heightened.

Furthermore, exposure to freezing temperatures will render blood useless and the transfusion of such blood could be fatal. The proper storage and transport of blood within the cold chain is essential. Standards for refrigerators, cold boxes, and temperature-monitoring equipment for use in the blood cold chain are key to ensuring that blood used in transfusions is safe and reliable.

Market dynamics–Medical refrigerators
The global  medical refrigerators market generated USD 3.3 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 21.86 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 5.7 percent from 2020 to 2024.

Surging demand for the safe storage of blood and blood derivatives from hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and diagnostic centers is fueling the growth of the market across the globe. The rising government funding in medical research as well as the pharmaceutical sector is expected to further upsurge the demand for medical refrigerators and freezers.

The blood bank refrigerators and plasma freezers segment is estimated to lead the market from 2020 to 2024, in terms of both value and volume. This segment is also projected to witness a higher CAGR than the other segments.

The rising demand for the safe storage of blood units and plasma from hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and diagnostic centers is expected to drive the growth of the blood bank refrigerators and plasma freezers segment.

The presence of software and hardware components makes it possible to cater to specific customer requirements, and ensures the complete and safe documentation of temperature data, thus leading to increased adoption of blood bank refrigerators.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (US), Blue Star Limited (India), Helmer Scientific (US), Vestfrost Solutions (Denmark), Felix Storch, Inc. (US), Philipp Kirsch GmbH (Germany), Haier Biomedical (China), Follett LLC (US), PHC Holdings Corporation (Japan), LEC Medical (United Kingdom), and Zhongke Meiling Cryogenics Company Limited (China) are some of the leading players operating in the medical refrigerators market.

These players have adopted several growth strategies like new product launches, expansions, acquisitions, new product developments, collaborations, partnerships, and agreements to enhance their position in the market.

Way forward
The availability of safe blood and blood products is essential for diverse modern healthcare services. Choosing high-performance products, like the technology currently available in cold storage equipment, is a critical step in maintaining blood supply. In an ideal scenario, over 3000 blood banks in India and the current blood bank density of 2.2 blood banks per million persons should adequately address the blood requirement of the country.

However, failure to properly process and store blood components separately leads to underutilization of blood; that’s because each blood component is used for a different health need. Unplanned distribution and unviable size of blood banks also worsen the problem of unmet needs for blood. New refrigeration technology incorporates features like precise temperature performance, continuous monitoring solutions, and data-logging capabilities that are critical for blood banks to deliver blood products in their most potent form to patients in need.

The Indian blood transfusion industry is considered an area that requires legal regulations as the industry is not only fragmented or decentralized, but is also equally diversified in ownership pattern. Yet we do not have a well-defined and stringent regulatory framework for blood products regulation. Frailty may arise from the inability of the government to enforce laws, regulations, and policies and personnel who may not be aware or cannot follow quality assurance and/or good manufacturing practices. While the health sector in the country has made outstanding accomplishments in the past few decades, there are several areas that need to be addressed as it potentially affects the timely availability of safe blood products, which calls for strengthening the planning and monitoring of blood transfusion services.

Industry Speak

Choosing the right refrigerators is important

Amit Chopra
Managing Director, India and Middle East,
Thermo Fisher Scientific

The increase in prevalence of hematological diseases, the rise in accidents, and the growth in geriatric population prone to blood disorders are some key factors driving growth in the blood banking segment. While globally, the blood bank market size is expected to reach USD 21.86 billion by 2027, in India, like any other reformative process, the strengthening of the blood banking segment is essential. As per the World Health Organization, blood transfusion is a life-saving intervention, and an integral part of many medical procedures. While the National AIDS Control Organization and National Blood Transfusion Council have made substantial strides, with the launch of Ayushman Bharat initiative, the government aims to offer universal access to healthcare services, across geographies and types of healthcare centers.

Furthermore, standards for blood banking have evolved with medical and technological advances. Access to affordable, adequate, and safe blood and blood products has become more important in India with the surge in blood requirement as a result of increased trauma, communicable and vector-borne diseases, and pregnancy-related complications. Additionally, with an increased preference toward usage of blood components, there is a need for advanced blood component separating and storage technologies. Choosing the right refrigerators or freezers, designed specifically to meet the growing demands of blood and plasma storage, is important.

At Thermo Fisher Scientific, our refrigeration and cold storage solutions offer sample protection for a wide array of sample types and offer larger range of storage conditions – from 4°C high-performance laboratory refrigerators to −196°C cryogenic freezers. Our products are designed to provide precise temperature monitoring, making them ideal for storing blood, plasma, vaccines, reagents, and other temperature-sensitive items. Overall, our efforts to guide and offer a complete suite of products are to implement ways to meet the demanding standards of the clinical and laboratory environment.

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