Blood Component Therapy – Red Blood Cells

Red Blood Cells


One unit of red blood cells (RBC) contains approximately 200mL red blood cells, 100 mL Optisol AS-5® (a solution added to extend storage life) and ~30mL plasma. All red blood cell transfusions must be ABO/Rh compatible with the recipient, so, in dire emergency, type O negative can be used for all patients. RBC do not provide viable platelets, nor do they provide clinically significant amounts of coagulation factors. RBC must be stored between 1-6° C and have a shelf life of 42 days.


RBC are indicated for patients with symptomatic anemia who are not treatable, within a reasonable amount of time considering their symptoms, with specific therapy such as iron, vitamin B12, folic acid or erythropoietin.

Therapeutic Effect

In a 70 kilogram adult, each unit should increase the hematocrit
by 3-4%.

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