Benefits of a blood donation archive repository: international survey of donor repository procedures and Scottish experiences

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The use of a donation sample archive has been in place within the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service for almost 35 years but the advent of human immunodeficiency virus donor testing led to this archive being kept for an indefinite period. This article describes the uses made of our archive repository.


Records of various potential transfusion transmission episodes were accessed and examined to assess the age of the archives investigated and the outcome of the investigations. Other uses of the archive repository were also investigated by reviewing the records of retrievals. The use of the archive to aid the interpretation of hepatitis C virus–indeterminate results was also conducted. Finally a global survey was performed to ascertain the temperature and length of storage used by various transfusion services.


A 3-year archive would have allowed for the investigation of 45 percent of cases (including all hepatitis B virus cases), while a 10-year archive would have allowed for 90 percent of cases. Only 34 percent of cases were shown to be transfusion-transmitted. Of 16 donors with c22-indeterminate bands on recombinant immunoblot assay, 2 (12%) could have been classified as confirmed-positive on the basis of their archive samples. A considerable proportion (41%) of the most recent requests for retrieval from the archive have been associated with the need to perform new mandatory tests for tissue donations at issue. Samples older than 3 years accounted for 25 percent of all samples retrieved. The global survey showed a variety of conditions in terms of both length and temperature of storage.


The use of a donation archive has been shown to be extremely useful in the investigation of potential transfusion-transmitted infections with most (66%) having no evidence of transfusion transmission. Although 90 percent of our cases could have been fully investigated with only a 10-year archive, perhaps the future retention period of hospital records should be considered when determining the length of storage of current donation archive samples.

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