Health Headlines: ‘Whole blood’ helping trauma patients

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Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 8:13 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s estimated that more than 37 million people will be rushed to the ER this year suffering from trauma. The most common injuries are falls followed by car accidents, and then violence-related injuries like gunshot wounds and stabbings. Now, a unique procedure developed on the battlefields of Iraq is helping doctors save lives in the ER.

One cowboy credits the procedure with saving his life after nearly dying on the ranch.

Case Jones is usually up at dawn working the ranch, riding horses, wrangling cattle, and hog hunting.

“We had our thermal scopes, and we were using them to shoot feral hogs.”

But in the dark of the night, his friend accidentally shot him.

“I started running to try to get behind a tree and, he still ended up shooting me.”

Dr. Scott Sagraves was the trauma surgeon who treated Jones, “His liver was almost split in half by the bullet.”

With 20 years of dealing with life-and-death injuries, Dr. Sagraves explains he’s recently changed how he treats them.

“We now have whole blood for our injured patients.”

Traditionally, trauma patients would receive donated blood which is broken down into red blood cells, platelets, or plasma. But patients that have lost a lot of blood usually need all three. That’s called ‘whole blood.’

Studies have shown that ‘whole blood’ improves coagulation, decreases the risk of infections, and helps prevent blood-related diseases.

After being treated with ‘whole blood,’ three weeks in the hospital, and some help from his wife Kristen, Jones is slowly getting back up to speed and doing what he was born to do.

“With God’s grace, I’m able to do what I’ve always done and had a full recovery.”

And Kristen agrees, “For everything we do every day, waking up, you know, driving down the road, getting on a horse, working cattle, it makes us grateful for all of it.”

Most whole blood donors are Type-O, which is a universal donor and can be used on any patent regardless of their blood type. ‘Whole blood’ units go through a 48-hour testing period and can be refrigerated for up to 21 days. This is in contrast to the longer shelf-life for traditional donated blood which is 42 days.