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the microsampling blog

the challenges of whole blood sample storage: there is a better way

whole blood requires cold storage

Storing and shipping whole blood samples poses significant challenges and costs.

After collection, whole blood samples must be tested immediately or stored and transported under strict temperature and environmental conditions for analysis or other applications. Characteristics of whole blood samples begin to change within hours of collection if they are not refrigerated or frozen.

Challenges of Liquid Whole Blood Samples

Maintaining the stability of liquid whole blood samples is essential. Since blood components begin to degrade immediately, extended exposure to ambient temperatures dramatically affects the outcome of any analysis. Therefore, medical organizations around the world have created guidelines for the proper storage, packaging, and shipping of whole blood samples.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States recommends that liquid whole blood samples that are held in specialized containers (i.e., tubes) should only be kept in a refrigerated state for 42 days. However, it is recognized that some changes in the samples may occur during that time.

Another government agency, The National Institute of Health and Welfare in Finland, determined that whole blood samples, refrigerated at 4°C (or about 39°F), should only be held for up to seven days before discarding.

Shipping Liquid Whole Blood Samples

When liquid blood samples must be shipped to another location by air or ground, the packaging, labeling, and handling instructions are very stringent. Since liquid blood samples are considered bio-hazardous materials, samples must be packed with several layers of protection and kept cold with dry ice or other refrigeration methods. Containers must be clearly marked for special handling.

International shipments require far more documentation and must comply with local regulations, which may differ from country to country.

An Easier Alternative: Dried Blood Samples

An efficient and far less complicated solution is to use dried blood sampling instead of liquid blood sampling. With a dried blood spot (DBS) method, capillary blood samples can be drawn by pricking a fingertip or the arm to collect a few drops of blood onto a small DBS card or onto a volumetric microsampling device.

Mitra sample collection is easyThe Mitra® device, for example, is a small microsampler that is based on volumetric absorptive microsampling, or VAMS® technology. There is a small sponge-like VAMS tip on the end of the Mitra device that absorbs the precise amount of blood needed for analyzing a wide range of analytes.

hemaPEN finger-stick blood sample collectionThe hemaPEN® device is another portable microsampling solution that utilizes dried blood samples, but this tool simultaneously collects 4 capillary blood samples from a single finger-prick. It transfers those 4 samples onto 4 pre-cut DBS filter paper disks inside the device.

A microsample of capillary blood can be air dried at room temperature on a DBS card. Blood microsamples collected on the Mitra or hemaPEN device are ready for immediate transport – they will dry in transit. The dried blood samples retain their integrity through the entire process of shipping and storing at ambient temperatures until the samples are ready to be analyzed in the lab.

Advantages of Dried Blood Sampling

Dried blood microsampling brings efficiency to the blood sampling process by reducing time and simplifying shipping and handling. Organizations that transition from liquid blood sampling to dried blood microsampling are able to reduce costs associated with blood sample collection and the entire sample workflow.

Here are some advantages of using dried blood sampling over whole blood sampling procedures:

  • Eliminates substantial cold-chain shipping costs
  • Reduces need for documentation to ship blood samples
  • Less stressful on the individual providing the samples
  • Reduces or eliminates patient to travel to a medical facility
  • Ideal for blood sampling in remote locations

Learn how to apply dried blood microsampling in your industry:

Find out how scientists apply remote microsampling in decentralized research & pediatric studies around the globe.


In some territories our devices are supplied for therapeutic or IVD use Outside of those territories our devices are supplied for research use only

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Trajan, Neoteryx

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