Red cells

They may be resuspended in other additives to prolong storage and filtered to remove most of the leucocytes.

A red cell unit is divided into four packs of equal volume to create paediatric red cells. This is to reduce donor exposure for small volume paediatric transfusions and to minimise product wastage.

Washed red cells are prepared using a manual process that double washes leucodepleted red cells (<14 days old) with SAG-M (saline adenine mannitol glucose) solution to remove the majority of plasma proteins, antibodies and electrolytes. The washed red cells are then resuspended in SAG-M solution to preserve their shelf life.

Red cells must be stored at 2 to 6ºC and have a variable shelf life.


Typical unit content and specifications

The typical unit content data is derived from Lifeblood process control testing. For each parameter, the mean value (± 1 SD) and specification is shown.

Data is for the period 1 July to 31 December 2022. The shorter than normal 1 year period reflects introduction of a process change.


Red cells leucocyte depleted

Volume (mL)258 ± 15 (>220)
Haemoglobin (g/unit)50 ± 5 (≥ 40)
Haematocrit (L/L)0.60 ± 0.03 (0.50–0.70)
Haemolysis (% at expiry)0.3 ± 0.1 (< 0.8)
Leucocyte count (106 /unit)0.03 ± 0.11 (< 1.0)


Paediatric red cells leucocyte depleted

Volume (mL)59 ± 4 (25–100)
Haemoglobin (g/unit)(Initial unit prior to splitting ≥ 40)
Haematocrit (L/L)0.62 ± 0.04 (0.50–0.70)
Haemolysis (% at expiry)0.2 ± 0.1 (< 0.8)
Leucocyte count (106 /unit)(Initial unit prior to splitting < 1.0)


Washed red cells leucocyte depleted

Volume (mL)264 ± 13 (> 130)
Haemoglobin (g/unit)50 ± 5 (≥ 37)
Haematocrit (L/L)0.62 ± 0.03 (0.50–0.70)
Haemolysis (% at expiry)0.2 ± 0.1 (< 0.8)
Leucocyte count (10^6 /unit)(Initial unit prior to splitting <1.0)
Last wash supernatant total protein (g/unit)0.01 ± 0.00 (< 0.5)



Leucodepleted red cells are available in Group O, A, B and AB, and RhD positive and RhD negative groups.


Red cells can be phenotyped, washed, CMV seronegative, frozen and irradiated.

 HLA compatible red cells may be provided for selected patients awaiting living donor kidney transplantation.