Transfusions of packed red blood cells (RBCs), a complex biological
product prepared from donated blood, are unique in many respects when compared
with other health interventions. Despite one of the worst epidemics in recent
times being caused, in part, by transfusion of blood products in the 1980s,
RBC transfusion remains an essential and frequently performed medical intervention.
In the United States, 11.5 million units of blood were donated in 1997.1 Of all units donated yearly, it is estimated that
50% to 70% are transfused in the surgical setting.2- 6
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