Non-invasive spectroscopy of transfusable red blood cells stored inside sealed plastic blood-bags
After being separated from (donated) whole blood, red blood cells are suspended in specially formulated additive solutions and stored (at 4 °C) in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blood-bags until they are needed for transfusion. With time, the prepared red cell concentrate (RCC) is known to undergo biochemical changes that lower effectiveness of the transfusion, and thus regulations are in place that limit the storage period to 42 days. At present, RCC is not subjected to analytical testing prior to transfusion. In this study, we use Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) to probe, non-invasively, the biochemistry of RCC inside sealed blood-bags. The retrieved spectra compare well with conventional Raman spectra (of sampled aliquots) and are dominated by features associated with hemoglobin. In addition to the analytical demonstration that SORS can be used to retrieve RCC spectra from standard clinical blood-bags without breaking the sterility of the system, the data reveal interesting detail about the oxygenation-state of the stored cells themselves, namely that some blood-bags unexpectedly contain measurable amounts of deoxygenated hemoglobin after weeks of storage. The demonstration that chemical information can be obtained non-invasively using spectroscopy will enable new studies of RCC degeneration, and points the way to a Raman-based instrument for quality-control in a blood-bank or hospital setting.