News Search

First cold storage platelet unit collected in Southwest Asia

First cold storage platelet unit collected in Southwest Asia

The apheresis team collected the first cold storage platelet unit in Southwest Asia, Aug. 16, 2017. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Scott Thibodeau (right) was the first donor.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- The apheresis collection team stationed in Southwest Asia collected their first cold storage platelet, or CSP, unit Aug. 16 for shipment. Requirements for CSP are less rigorous than room temperature platelets, allowing the Armed Services Blood Program to expand its mission and provide platelets to areas they were previously unable to reach.

“In the past, the ASBP would have to place apheresis teams in locations that would allow for same day or immediate supply of platelets due short shelf life and the length of time it takes to collect and test the platelets,” said Air Force Capt. Becky Pederson, Chief of the Apheresis Element in Southwest Asia. “CSP will now allow the ASBP to ship platelets on the day of collection - or day one and still get it to locations with six to seven days of life left of the products.”

Collection for CSP is no different than a regular platelet collection. During the donation, the donor’s blood is processed through an apheresis machine. Blood is drawn from one arm, the platelets are separated from the blood and the remaining components — red and white blood cells and plasma — are returned through the donor’s arm. According to Pederson, the difference is how the units are processed and stored and the expiration dates between the two.

“Room temperature platelets require continuous agitation in a platelet rocker at 20-25 degrees Celsius and expire after five or seven days; whereas our current process for CSP extends the expiration date out to 10 days,” Pederson said. “It can have up to double the shelf life of room temperature platelets and we do not have to agitate CSP like we do with room temperature platelets.”

Collecting CSP also expands the amount of products the ASBP is able to provide because of the 10-day expiration date.

“Double the expiration date of five day platelets equals double the products,” Pederson said. “Double the products or double the expiration date can also equal less donors required, depending on the need and utilization determined by the ASBP.”

Room temperature platelets are also more susceptible to bacterial contamination, Pederson said. For this reason, they must be cultured no earlier than 24 hours after collection, which ultimately reduces the time on the shelf to four days or six days for five or seven day platelets respectively.

“In the case of CSP, we are able to test the product within one hour of collection for yield and pH, which are mandated Food and Drug Administration tests, label it and have it shipped all within the same day,” Pederson said.

Unlike room temperature platelets, CSP does not require special equipment for agitation or bacterial culturing therefore CSP is a superior product for locations in austere environments that may be without the standard equipment of a medical facility. CSP can simply be stored in a fridge or Collins Box as other blood products, making both shipping and storage easier.

However, getting to the point of collection was no easy task for the apheresis teams. Instead, it involved nearly two years of training.

“First, our enlisted technicians must have completed their laboratory training which is 13-month training that includes nine months of clinical rotation,” Pederson said. “After that, when tasked to deploy, the team must attend a just-in-time training (for the collection equipment) at the Armed Services Blood Bank Center in San Antonio, Texas.”

During the training, the team learned how to perform various tasks such as screening a donor, and ensuring the safety of the product and the donor. They were also trained on collection, testing, labeling and shipping procedures.

The team in Asia is currently only the third rotation. Pederson said previous teams worked hard to obtain the equipment and establish procedures to safely collect in theater.

“Our team was able to reach this milestone as a result of the previous team’s hard work. This mission can have its ups and downs. Collecting the amount we need can be very stressful as you never want to let your customers down, especially the ones who are out front fighting a good fight,” Pederson said. "However, my team has an amazing attitude and will do anything to meet a mission. Our success is due to the people behind the scenes making it happen. The team worked hard and is ready for future challenges. I would like to thank everyone that helped us get this far to include our donors. We would not be here without our donors. We have very dedicated donors and it makes me proud to be a part of this mission and am very fortunate to experience the passion that our donors have for providing the ‘liquid gold’ in their veins.”

In addition to CSP, the team is also working with the Army Institute of Surgical Research to perform a study to collect platelets in Platelet Additive Solution which, according to Pederson has the future capability to reduce the current amount of transfusion reactions by approximately 50 percent. In addition, the additive solution provides nutrients to the platelets therefore improving their metabolism with a possible outcome of even longer platelet life. If all goes well, then the CSP collection requirements may eventually be increased to meet other needs within the team’s area of responsibility.

“We are constantly striving to improve our processes to ensure this team will have an enduring presence," she said. “CSP are really a great asset to the military blood program’s 'blood arsenal' and will enable us to provide additional lifesaving capabilities and increase our already amazing survival rate.”

About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest. Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.