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Dates: 2011-2016
Funding: NIHR HTA programme
Collaborators: Professor Timothy Walsh, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Information: Helen Campbell

Anaemia affects up to 80% of ICU patients many of whom will require a red blood cell (RBC) transfusion.  The average storage time of RBCs when they are transfused to NHS patients is 18-21 days. Evidence is now available to show that changes to RBCs occur during storage - substances accumulate in the bag that could be harmful, and the ability of the RBCs to transport oxygen to tissues is reduced.  Until now there have been no studies to determine whether using fresher RBCs (stored for just 7 days or less) would be more effective and cost-effective than standard issue RBCs.  The ABLE trial, being led from Canada, will randomise ICU patients who require a RBC transfusion to receive either fresher or standard issue RBCs during their ICU and subsequent hospital stay.
A health economic evaluation is being conducted as an integral part of the UK arm of the trial.  Data will be collected from patients on NHS resource use and health related quality of life (HRQoL) and used to estimate costs and QALYs in each arm out to 12 months, as well as to extrapolate to the longer term. Incremental analyses will be performed and the probability that providing fresher RBCs to ICU patients is cost-effective when compared with standard issue RBCs will be determined