Introduction: Fluctuations in ambient temperature and pressure, as well as physical jostling, may affect the stability of whole blood samples transported by air freight. The aim of this study was to characterize the stability of key blood variables during air freight and to investigate whether vibration or reduced pressure alone affected results. Methods: Over a 72-h interval, we evaluated the stability of full blood count indices (plus reticulocytes) in tubes that were air-freighted a total of 2, 10 and 28 h. We also examined the impact of 24 h of reduced atmospheric pressure (750 hpa or approximately 2500 m.a.s.l) and vibration (5 Hz). Samples were measured on a Sysmex XT-2000i instrument. Results: The two key variables in the context of antidoping (haemoglobin concentration, reticulocytes) remained stable over a 72-h period regardless of the duration of air freight. Atmospheric pressure and vibration had no discernible effect. Conclusion: Whole blood samples stored in NanoCool devices can be relied upon to remain stable for at least 72 h despite interim air freight.
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