Blood transfusion - making every drop count
Almost half a million Australians give up an hour of their time to donate blood. Have you ever thought about what happens when that hour is up?
John Perry is alive today thanks to blood transfusions. He is now helping tell the story of the network of health professionals that worked hand-in-hand to save his life. And NSW Health Pathology experts have been a vital partner in this.
Just over a year ago, John and his elderly mother (pictured right) were driving on a country road in central west NSW when they hit a tree travelling at 90 kilometres an hour .
They were 15 kilometres from the closest town of Forbes (population 7,500) and more than 100 kilometres away from the regional trauma centre at Orange Hospital.
It would be almost three months before John returned home.
NSW Ambulance’s Helicopter Medical Team arrived first to the scene and immediately began life support and a blood transfusion.
The Aeromedical Control Centre sent an extra four units of blood which were given to John in-flight enroute to Orange Hospital.
But the seriousness of his injuries meant they needed to fly to the major trauma centre at Liverpool and John would need more blood if he were to survive the trip.
With the helicopter engine still running and the rotors still moving, the team took on more units of blood, plasma and cryoprecipitate.
He received a total of 15 units of blood before arriving at Liverpool Hospital. Here he underwent emergency surgery before many more weeks of rehabilitation. Ten weeks after his accident John was discharged and finally returned home to his property.
Being able to provide in-flight transfusions for emergency care has only become a reality in the last few years. It’s the result of the innovative efforts of our transfusion experts like Tony Greenfield (pictured bottom right).
Helicopters carry three units of blood red cells in highly specialised eskies known as ‘shippers’ that preserve the blood between 2-6oC for on-the-spot emergency care.
Blood stores are kept in specialist blood banks in our hospital pathology units and monitored by our transfusion scientists.
These experts also support a larger network of rural hospitals, along with the ambulance service, to regularly rotate stocks and make sure every drop counts.
After his near brush with death John has become determined to pay tribute to all those who played a role in his care. He also urges all those who can to give blood.