Low battlefield fatality rates credit rapid evacuation and whole blood transfusions, an old practice that has recently resurfaced.

Since the Second Lebanon war and all the subsequent conflicts, statistics show a very low fatality rate amid soldiers injured during battle. On one hand, this can be attributed to the rapid employment of rescue choppers, which on average deliver a soldier from the front to the hospital in just over an hour. On the other hand, these statistics are due to blood transfusions and the availability of medical personnel on the front.

Administering whole blood to injured soldiers in the field can potentially prolong their survival until they reach a medical facility. However, attributing the low-case fatality rate solely to these transfusions is challenging as scientific evidence validating the beneficial effects of whole blood transfusions in battlefield settings is still pending. While anecdotal evidence exists, further research is needed to substantiate these observations.

The Potential Role of Whole Blood Transfusions

Dr. Yoram Klein, the Director of Sheba’s Trauma Unit has stated the following, “I am glad that they are using a lot of blood in this war. I am not sure it made a huge difference in the outcomes for wounded soldiers, but the IDF medical personnel have learned how to use it. This could be critical for what may come. On the Lebanese front, the evacuations will not be as quick and the situation may be completely different. Then whole blood transfusions might really be the difference between life and death,” he said.

Evolution of Blood Transfusion Practices

Using whole blood harkens back to the earlier half of the 20th century. According to Dr. Klein, it was only during the later half the decade that the practice was put to a stop and blood units began separating the blood into components such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryo. At the time, it was looked upon as a method of making the most out of every blood donation, as patients typically need specific components of the blood.

The concept of utilizing whole blood emerged during the early 2000s amid the challenges faced by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, where treating injured troops in remote, inaccessible areas posed significant logistical hurdles. In such circumstances, the expedient approach involving the extraction of a unit of whole blood from one soldier and administering it to a wounded comrade on the battlefield proved to be a lifesaver.

More Posts

BARI Clinic: Transforming Pediatric Care

BARI Clinic: Transforming Pediatric Care

The Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center proudly announces the opening of the BARI Clinic, a specialized facility for diagnosing and performing minor medical procedures for children. This clinic aims to transform pediatric care by minimizing anxiety and pain through advanced techniques and compassionate care.

read more