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September 13, 1965

Frozen Blood: Theory and Practice

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, and the surgical services of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1965;193(11):941-944. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090110079019

The preservation of blood by freezing is an urgent national problem. The current three-week limit for storage of blood at + 4 C does not permit statistical equilibration of supply and demand and causes alternating periods of surplus and shortage in blood banks throughout the country. In no event can blood be stockpiled conveniently for civilian emergencies, or mass casualty situations.

Polge, Smith, and Parkes1 found a solution to many of the problems faced by living cells at low temperatures when they discovered the remarkable ability of glycerol to protect fowl spermatozoa against death during slow freezing and thawing. Smith2 later reported that glycerol afforded similar protection to human erythrocytes. Many techniques have since been developed to freeze blood in the presence of glycerol and satisfactory preservation of erythrocytes has resulted. Haynes et al at the US Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Mass, have demonstrated a number of clinical advantages of