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Army Blood Program expands low-titer Type O whole blood production

Army Col. Michael Place, commanding officer of the Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest. (U.S. Army photo) Army Col. Michael Place, commanding officer of the Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest. (U.S. Army photo)

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The Armed Service Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest – the first U.S. Department of Defense blood donor center to ship low-titer Type O whole blood to the U.S. Central Command area of operations – expanded its support of combat operations. 

“Since the first shipment of low-titer O whole blood in March 2016, special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan recognized the inherent logistical benefit of the program,” said Army Capt. Jacquelyn Messenger, director of the ASBBC-PNW. “By providing low-titer O whole blood, we have armed special operations medical assets with a full complement of universally compatible blood products in the right ratio far forward on the battlefield, greatly increasing the chance of survival from acute hemorrhage injuries.” 

The ASBBC-PNW provided its first shipment of five units of low-titer O whole blood to Afghanistan March 23. Since then, the ASBBC-PNW has shipped a total of 412 units, expanding from the original mission of seven units per week to 32. 

This expansion transitioned whole blood support from being offered exclusively in Afghanistan to shipping throughout the CENTCOM area of operations and supports the Naval Hospital in Sigonella, Italy.  Shipments require close coordination to maximize military airlift capabilities and deliver the products with minimal loss of shelf life. 

The implementation of low-titer O whole blood production supports the Tactical Combat Casualty Care guidance of whole blood being the fluid of choice to resuscitate bleeding patients. 

“From my recent deployment experience as the area joint blood program officer for Afghanistan, I understand the difficulty in getting the right type of blood products to the point of injury,” said Messenger. 

Units on missions for weeks at a time are typically limited to refrigeration storage capabilities and do not have the means to store or thaw frozen plasma products. Additionally, thawed plasma has a limited storage of five days and will not be viable for the entire length of the mission.  

“Furthermore, platelets are only viable for five days at room temperature, greatly reducing availability,” Messenger said. “Low-titer O whole blood contains red cells, plasma and platelets and can be stored refrigerated for 21 days, expanding the availability of coagulation factors and platelets.” 

As the only donor center currently providing this lifesaving product, it is imperative that the ASBBC-PNW meet its mission quota requirement each week. 

To fulfill this need, the ASBBC-PNW expanded its blood drives within the Pacific Northwest from an average of 12 drives per month to 16. Focal recruiting has also been instrumental in meeting target goals, drawing larger quantities of O-positive and O-negative donors. As a result, support for the low-titer O whole blood program has reached the highest levels of the military community within the Pacific Northwest. 

“As a provider, I feel it is important to give back to our service members,” said Army Col. Michael Place, commander of the Madigan Army Medical Center and avid supporter of the Armed Services Blood Program. “As long as I’m able to donate blood to help our community, I’ll continue to do my part.” 

Learn more about the Army Blood Program’s low-titer Type O whole blood program on the Armed Service Blood Program website

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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