An evaluation of leucocyte depleted red cells and plasma transfusion for major traumatic haemorrhage in patients presenting to the prehospital setting in London - feasibility study


Approximately 100 people each year in London suffer traumatic injuries that resulting in blood loss that could result in death before they reach hospital.  In 2012 London's Air Ambulance was the first in the UK to treat these patients with pre-hospital transfusions of red blood cells. As a result, pre-hospital mortality for this severely bleeding group reduced from 34% to 19%.

The study

In October 2018 London's Air Ambulance introduced a new blood component that contains red blood cells and plasma in a single unit (Red Cell & Plasma) as part of the 2 year feasibility study.  This new blood component improves upon current treatment by adding plasma to the transfusion bag. This helps to form stronger blood clots, and also reduces the time to receiving effective therapy for people with severe blood loss, thus significantly improving their chances of survival.  

The strength of the study is the collaboration between three organisations  - C4TS (Queen Mary University of London), NHS Blood and Transplant and Barts Health Trust.  The organisations funding the study are Barts Charity, London Air Ambulance, Saracens Rugby Club and The Henry Surtees Foundation.

The new study will assess patient outcome by comparing the current blood product against the new blood product, and will also compare transfusion data from Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance, Thames Valley Air Ambulance, the Great North Air Ambulance Service and Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance.

Download the study protocol here

Next Steps

This study is the next step in the journey towards delivering whole blood transfusions (containing red blood cells, plasma and platelets), at the roadside, with the aim 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.

Study leads

Dr Laura Green, Consultant Haematologist at NHSBT and Barts Health Trust and Senior Lecturer in Trauma Sciences at QMUL

Dr Anne Waver,  Consultant in Pre-Hospital Care at London's Air Ambulance and Clinical Director of Trauma at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust

Dr Ross Davenport, Senior Lecturer in Trauma Sciences at QMUL and Consultant Trauma and Vascular Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust.


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