Wollongong Transfusion Laboratory

20 September 2021

Even while so much of NSW is in lockdown, our experts are responding to life and death situations, and making a difference in the most difficult and challenging circumstances.

Well done to the Wollongong Transfusion Laboratory staff, were recently praised by the Aeromedical Retrieval Team for their role in providing blood products to a patient who had lost more than his total blood volume. 

Thankfully, paramedics were able to keep him alive and he made it to St George Hospital to undergo lifesaving surgery.

The Aeromedical Retrieval team recently activated a Retrieval Transfusion Protocol (RTP) for a patient who was losing large amounts of blood. 

Margaret Vernon, Transfusion Lab Manager at NSW Health Pathology’s Wollongong Transfusion Laboratory, said an RTP is used in circumstances where the team has used the three Red Blood Cell units they carry on board and the patient urgently needs more.

Sometimes it’s needed at the scene of the incident because the patient is trapped and needs extra blood products, so NSW Police come to the hospital, pick up the products and take them back to the scene. 

The other scenario is the patient is in the helicopter on the way from the scene to a major trauma hospital but needs more product, so the helicopter calls into a hospital on the way to pick up more products. 

In this case, NSW Police initially came and picked up three units of blood to take back to the scene. The patient had lost so much blood the team was worried they would need to cease resuscitation, but when they heard the police sirens, they continued until they got the extra units of blood. 

Paramedics then realised the patient would need more blood to keep him alive until he reached St George Hospital, so they requested another six units. When the patient arrived at St George Hospital, another two units were waiting at the helipad, so the man could be transfused on the way to theatre. 

The treating paramedics reached out to praise our staff, particularly Erica and Nathan from NSW Health Pathology’s Wollongong Transfusion Lab, for their incredible organisation and efficiency. Their efforts literally saved the patient’s life, as he had lost more than his total blood volume.

We don’t often get to hear what impact we make to a patient’s outcomes, so it’s good to share positive feedback when we do.

Bravo to all involved.

Wollongong Transfusion Lab

Pictured above, back (L-R):  Bec, Lynn, Nathan, Ben and Erica.
Front (L-R):  Paulina, Genesis and Bonny.