Earlier this evening, I caught an interesting story on NPR about some of the advances made by medical personnel working in Iraq and Afghanistan. One such advance had to do with the benefits of using whole blood, particularly when used instead of saline to keep blood pressure up. I thought I would share it with everyone here.
The full story can be found here.
[U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Rachel] Height points to another old cure that has been discovered anew: whole blood. Over many decades, scientists found ways to break blood into its components — white and red cells, platelets — and store them each with a different shelf life.
But the carnage of U.S. battles in Iraq forced doctors to hold blood drives right on base, and they discovered that fresh, whole blood works wonders at resuscitation, says Height.
"It's pretty exciting to take care of people that literally died on the table at a down-range theater yesterday, come to us, and within a few hours, we can take his breathing tube out and they're talking to their family," she says.
In Vietnam, saline was used to keep blood pressure up, but that seeped into the respiratory system, causing a deadly ailment known as Danang Lung. Whole blood leaves the lungs healthier, which means patients can avoid a host of potential problems associated with ventilator machines and general anesthesia.