Red blood cells (RBC) can be damaged by medical products, from storage or from disease. Haemolysis (cell rupture and haemoglobin release) is often a key indicator, with mechanical fragility (MF) offering the potential to assess sub-haemolytic damage as well. This article reports on a unique approach to measuring haemolysis, without the need for centrifugation or other sample separation. It also reports on employing that in measuring blood fragility (susceptibility to haemolysis) under shear stress, utilising an electromagnet to cause a bead to oscillate within a cartridge that contains the sample. Cycling between stressing and optical measurement of induced haemolysis at progressively increasing durations of stress provides a fragility profile. Sub-system-level testing shows high accuracy for the haemolysis measurements and fair consistency for MF profiling. Improving accuracy and precision of profiling is a current focus and a fully integrated and automated version of this system is under development.
Keywords: Red blood cells (RBC); blood damage; engineering design; fragility; haemolysis.