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September 2006 Issue

Hoxworth lab technician Victoria Johnson prepares units of Acrodose platelets for testing.
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Hoxworth Uses New Technology to Increase Platelet Availability

Published September 2006

UC’s Hoxworth Blood Center has introduced technology that will dramatically extend the shelf life of lifesaving blood components and increase supplies needed for critically injured patients.

Hoxworth is now using a Pall Acrodose PL system, which can create transfusion-ready pooled platelet product with an extended shelf life.

Platelets are the blood component responsible for clotting and are critical to the survival of patients who have lost blood due to surgery, hemorrhage, chemotherapy or a traumatic injury.

“Maintaining adequate platelet supplies is a challenge,” says Susan Wilkinson, EdD, associate director of the Hoxworth Blood Center. “Inadvertent shortages and outdated surplus units of platelets that had to be thrown away were unavoidable.”

”In the past,” says Robert Giulitto, assistant director of production and product management at Hoxworth, “the urgent need for pooled platelets to treat life-threatening injuries, combined with the short, four-hour window in which they could be used, created a real time crunch.”


Due to their short shelf life, platelet products are more difficult to produce and manage than other blood components. Prior to the availability of the Acrodose PL system, a technologist would pool five platelet units into a larger bag for a therapeutic dose. Potential exposure to air contaminants means that platelets pooled in this fashion have a shelf life of only four hours.

The new technique uses a glove-like combining bag, with the “fingers” attached directly to five platelet bags. The end product is completely sterile and ready to infuse. Thanks to this technology, pooled platelet products can survive up to five days from collection.

The extra time the platelets remain usable will not only help save lives. It will also save money for Hoxworth’s 28 client hospitals by reducing the number of expired platelets that have to be thrown away, and reducing the need to pool product on-site. The PL Acrodose system will help Hoxworth Blood Center and area hospitals provide better patient care while reducing costs.

Hoxworth will still collect about 80 percent of its required platelets using the technique known as apheresis, which filters out white blood cells (leucocytes) and simultaneously returns red blood cells to the donor.


The average apheresis donation takes about an hour and 20 minutes, but the finished product is one full unit of platelets per donor. By comparison, it takes only 15 to 20 minutes to donate a unit of whole blood.

Fluctuations in demand, however, require that about 20 percent of the platelet product be prepared using the new technology.

Hoxworth is the only blood center in the country that is officially affiliated with a university. 

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