UK first Whole Blood study collaboration with London's Air Ambulance

25 Oct 2018

We are supporting London's Air Ambulance who will now be administering life-saving 'whole blood' transfusions to pre-hospital patients at the roadside, in a landmark UK study.

 A new blood product will be used pre-hospital for the first time in the UK by London’s Air Ambulance medical teams. As part of this two year study that is supported by £100k of our funding, the new product will be given to seriously injured patients who are bleeding to death, with the hope of saving more lives.

Hundreds more lives to be saved each year  

Approximately 100 people each year in London suffer traumatic injuries that result in such serious bleeding that they may die before reaching hospital.  The new blood product contains essential clotting ingredients to help form stronger blood clots and replace lost blood volume.  

The new blood product will contain red blood cells and plasma as a single unit. London’s Air Ambulance previously used a product that only contains red blood cells (since that was introduced in 2012 as a world first, there has been a reduction in pre-hospital mortality from 34% to 19%). The new study will eventually see medical teams deliver whole blood transfusions at the roadside to critically injured patients in the capital. It is the next step on a journey to delivering whole blood transfusions (which also contains platelets) with the aim to further reduce deaths due to catastrophic bleeding;

The study is collaborative between Barts Health NHS Trust, Queen Mary University of London, London’s Air Ambulance and NHS Blood and Transplant. 

Leading the way in pre-hospital critical care   

Dr Laura Green consultant Haematologist at Barts Health NHS Trust and NHSBT, who has an active research portfolio in acquired bleeding disorders and joint appointments at NHSBT, Barts Health NHS Trust and QMUL, identified an opportunity for all the organisations to collaborate on this project.

She says: “The strength of this study is the highly expert and multi-disciplinary collaboration between funding charities (London’s Air Ambulance and Barts Charity), NHSBT, QMUL and Barts Health Trust.

The output of this study will be instrumental in informing the design of the future trial, which will determine the most appropriate transfusion strategy for patients who are bleeding in the pre-hospital setting. This in turn will lead to improvements in patient’s outcomes.”

Leading the study is Dr Anne Weaver, Consultant in Pre-Hospital Care at London’s Air Ambulance and Clinical Director of Trauma at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust.Speaking ahead of the start of the study launch Dr Weaver said: “As the first UK air ambulance to deliver pre-hospital blood transfusion this project builds on previous work to place us at the forefront of prehospital transfusion research. 

At London’s Air Ambulance we always want to give the gold standard of care to patients and the introduction of the new blood product will significantly improve the chances of survival for critically injured patients with severe blood loss, allowing them the chance to arrive at hospital."

This study is the next step in the journey towards London’s Air Ambulance delivering whole blood transfusions, containing red blood cells, plasma and platelets, at the roadside.  The aim is to further reduce deaths due to catastrophic bleeding.  If successful, NHSBT hope to extend availability and practice across the UK to other providers, in order to deliver a clinical advantage to critically injured patients who otherwise would not survive.

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