A new type of blood transfusion developed for military use in Iraq and Afghanistan is now being utilized in San Antonio.
It's a technique straight from the battlefield, making its way to the skies of South Texas.
“Our mission is to save and enhance lives through the healing power of human cells,” said BioBridge Global CEO Martin Landon.
It combines the practice of pre-hospital transfusions with units of whole blood rather than transfusing individual blood components of red cells, plasma or platelets.
San Antonio is one of the first cities to implement the system.
“We're taking that model, the great work that the military does out in the field of battle today and we're using their expertise to save lives right here in South Texas,” South Texas Blood and Tissue Center COO Elizabeth Waltman explained.
It's a message that speaks to donors like Mark Rodriguez.
Right now, three out of four patients needing massive transfusions die. Research shows that this new whole-blood transfusion can cut that down 20 percent.
“When you see those birds in the air, you know that somebody's life is in jeopardy and they're the ones that are going to make the difference between life and death,” Waltman said.
That's why the Brothers in Arms program is arming five helicopter companies with whole blood. The blood carried will be type O positive from male donors only. Rodriguez says that this should be a call to men to step up and make a difference.
“It's too bad we couldn't have done this sooner,” Rodriguez said. “We've missed a lot of opportunities. but it's better late than never.”
Helicopters will begin carrying whole blood through the Brothers in Arms program on Monday. Forty donors are already signed up to give.
the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is asking anyone who can give to get involved and donate.