Fresh whole blood transfusion capability for Special Operations Forces

Fresh whole blood transfusion capability for Special Operations Forces

Can J Surg 2015;58(3):S153-S156 | Full Text | PDF

Maj Andrew Beckett, MD; Jeannie Callum, MD; Luis Teodoro da Luz, MD; Joanne Schmid, BSN; Christopher Funk, MD; Col Elon Glassberg, MD; Col Homer Tien, MD


Fresh whole blood (FWB) transfusion is an option for providing volume and oxygen carrying capacity to bleeding Special Operations soldiers who are injured in an austere environment and who are far from a regular blood bank. Retrospective data from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan show an association between the use of FWB and survival. We reviewed the literature to document the issues surrounding FWB transfusion to Special Operations soldiers in the austere environment and surveyed the literature regarding best practice guidelines for and patient outcomes after FWB transfusions. Most literature regarding FWB transfusion is retrospective or historical. There is limited prospective evidence currently to change transfusion practice in tertiary care facilities, but FWB remains an option in the austere setting.

Accepted for publication Nov. 11, 2014

Affiliations: From the 1 Canadian Field Hospital, Petawawa, Ont. (Beckett, Schmid, Tien); Trauma Program, McGill University Health Centre, Montréal, Que. (Beckett); Sunnybrook Heath Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ont. (Callum, da Luz, Tien); The Trauma & Combat Medicine Branch, Surgeon General’s HQ, Israel Defense Forces, Ramat Gan, Israel (Glassberg).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this commentary and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.012614

Correspondence to: A. Beckett, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Trauma, 2075 Bayview Ave., Toronto, ON, M4N3M5;