Blood in the shape of a heart

Innovative transfusion saving lives, new study finds

Health professionals can boost patient survival rates by combining both red blood cells and plasma in a single bag for just one transfusion, a new study has revealed.

The trial was a collaboration between NHS Blood and Transplant, who developed the new product; Queen Mary University of London, who led the research; and Barts Health NHS Trust, who provided clinical data and support.

To test the new product, the organisations recruited 909 traumatic haemorrhages patients and treated them with either:

  • The new transfusion, combining both red blood cells and plasma in one bag.
  • Separate transfusions of red blood cells and plasma.
  • Just red blood cells.

Although they emphasise that more evaluations are needed to confirm their findings, the researchers discovered that the chances of surviving 24 hours were 1.5 times higher in patients who received the new product than those who got just red blood cells alone.

The trial was funded by London Air Ambulance, Barts Charity, and NHS Blood and Transplant.

The study’s Chief Investigator, a Consultant Haematologist at NHS Blood and Transplant and Barts Health, and a Reader in Transfusion Medicine at Queen Mary University, Dr Laura Green, said: “The majority of trauma deaths are within three hours.

“We know patients benefit from getting not just red blood cells but also plasma but it’s difficult to quickly carry out multiple transfusions in an urgent pre-hospital setting – such as by the road side at night following a major crash, where a patient might have minutes to live.

“The study provides evidence that this new product, which contains both plasma and red blood cells unmixed in one bag, also saves more lives than just giving red blood cells alone. Now it can be explored further as a potential lifesaving new treatment which can be used outside of hospitals.”

The trial was published in the journal Critical Care.

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