By Debbie Gregory.
U.S. military’s special operations troops are now carrying a new tool into combat to potentially save lives.
All of their first-aid kits now contain freeze-dried blood plasma that can prevent wounded troops from bleeding to death on the battlefield.
Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. It is the single largest component of human blood, comprising about 55 percent, and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins.
Plasma helps clot blood and can prevent badly wounded troops from bleeding to death on the battlefield.
The blood product is initially frozen and then dehydrated to remove liquid, turning it into a powder. It requires no refrigeration and can be used on wounds within minutes, after adding water.
The French-made product is lighter and smaller in volume than other blood products, and because it does not need to be frozen or kept fresh, it can be carried on long missions, or even deep into enemy territory. The plasma is made from volunteer donors and has a shelf life of about two years.
The U.S. is using the French product while Teleflex Inc. is waiting to win approval from the FDA. Teleflex plans to buy its donated plasma from blood banks and produce enough for the armed services and civilian emergency rooms.
This year will mark the first time the U.S military since will use the substance across the board since World War II.