Method using oxygen removal for extending the useful shelf-life of refrigerated red blood cells. A cost-effective, 4.degree. C. storage procedure that preserves red cell quality and prolongs post-transfusion in vivo survival is described. Preservation of adenosine triphosphate levels and reduction in hemolysis and in membrane vesicle production of red blood cells stored at 4.degree. C. for prolonged periods of time is achieved by removing oxygen therefrom at the time of storage; in particular, by flushing with an inert gas. Adenosine triphosphate levels of the stored red blood cells are boosted in some samples by addition of ammonium phosphate.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to the liquid preservation of blood and, more particularly, to the refrigerated storage of blood in the absence of oxygen. The invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to the Regents of The University of California. The government has certain rights in the invention.