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October 25, 2012
CPL Nick Wiseman
BLOOD supplies to Australian forces
new era in Australian medical technol-
ogy -- spearheaded by the ADF.
Partnered with the Red Cross
Blood Service, the new technol-
ogy will bring deep-freeze capabil-
ity allowing for greater shelf life for
future surgical deployments.
Research for the project began
three years ago after Australian forces
observed Dutch medical procedures at
a military hospital in Afghanistan.
Discovering a large reduction in the
turnaround of blood supplies, the ADF
partnered with the Red Cross, which is
the only organisation licensed to han-
dle blood within Australia.
Future health capability medical
officer LCDR Scott Finlayson said
there were a large number of different
blood products available.
"The most important ones to the
ADF are red cells, plasma and plate-
lets," he said.
While frozen blood products are
not new, using the deep-freeze tech-
nology will see shelf lives increase
"Plasma currently has a frozen
shelf life of two years but we're look-
ing to deep freeze them [-80 degrees]
for seven years. Red cells could store
up to 10 years," LCDR Finlayson said.
"Once red cells have thawed you
have around five days to use them.
"When done using this new tech-
nology we will get 14 days resulting in
much less turnover."
Modern logistical transport would
allow the deep frozen blood products
to remain frozen for the journey around
the world, if needed in an operational
theatre, using a combination of dry ice
and cold storage.
Once delivered, the products could
be transferred back into deep freeze as
the cold chain would remain unbroken
or be thawed out if needed.
LCDR Finlayson said if all went
well the first frozen products could be
seen mid-next year.
"With most of the research complete
we now need to get Therapeutic Goods
Administration approval," he said.
"We'll then move to the processing
phase along with training and equip-
The blood chain begins with an
individual choosing to donate blood.
It is then sent to Sydney laboratories
where it is processed for freezing.
To stabilise and successfully deep
freeze blood products a stabilising
agent needs to be introduced, which
reduces the amount of damaged cells
in the thawing process.
Although a percentage of cells
will always be lost in the process,
this agent reduces the amount of cells
bursting and is washed out of the prod-
uct before use.
Taking up to 100 minutes to thaw
out and use, the products would be
used in conjunction with fresh supplies
and will not replace them altogether.
Making blood run cold
Halfway through the Challenge,
Navy had 231 donations and was
trailing Army and Air Force.
Air Force: 313
Keep up to date with Navy's ef-
fort at www.donateblood.com.
"It will reduce wastage and can be
used in situations where logistics will
not be able to deliver fresh supplies
from Australia," LCDR Finlayson said.
"These products could be potential-
ly used in resuscitative and battlefield
With the technology still in its early
days, future use could see it incorpo-
rated into platforms such as the LHD
to provide a mobile surgical hospital in
times of humanitarian disaster relief. GOOD USE: The new technology will increase shelf life of stored blood
products and reduce waste.
Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
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