Home' Army News : October 25th 2012 Contents "
see shelf lives
-- Leut-Cmdr Scott Finlayson,
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Army October 25, 2012
Cpl Nick Wiseman
BLOOD supplies to Australian
forces may be frozen in what is set
to be a new era in Australian medi-
cal technology -- spearheaded by
Partnered with the Red Cross
Blood Service, the new technology
will provide deep-freeze capability
allowing for greater shelf life for
future surgical deployments.
Research for the project began
three years ago after Australian
forces observed Dutch medical
procedures at a military hospital in
Discovering a large reduction
in the turnaround of blood sup-
plies, the ADF partnered with the
Red Cross -- the only organisation
licensed to handle blood within
Future Health Capability
Medical Officer Leut-Cmdr Scott
Finlayson said there were a large
number of different blood products
"The most important ones to
the ADF are red cells, plasma and
platelets," he said.
"Frozen blood products are not
new but using the deep-freeze tech-
nology will see shelf lives increase
"Plasma currently has a frozen
shelf life of two years but we're
looking to deep freeze them [-80
degrees] for seven years. Red cells
could store up to 10 years.
"Once red cells have thawed
you have around five days [to use
them]. When done using this new
technology, we get 14 days, result-
ing in much less turnover."
Modern logistics would allow
the deep frozen blood products
to remain frozen for the journey
around the world, if needed in an
operational theatre, using a combi-
nation of dry ice and cold storage.
Once delivered, the products
could be transferred back into deep
freeze, as the cold chain would
remain unbroken, or be thawed out
Leut-Cmdr Finlayson said if all
went well the first frozen products
could be seen mid-next year.
"With most of the research
complete we now need to get
Therapeutic Goods Administration
approval," he said.
"We'll then move to the process-
ing phase, along with training and
The blood chain begins with
an individual choosing to donate
blood, which is then sent to the
Sydney laboratories where it is pro-
cessed for freezing.
To stabilise and successful-
ly deep freeze blood products, a
particular agent needs to be intro-
duced, which reduces damaged
cells in the thawing process.
Although a certain percentage of
cells will always be lost in the pro-
cess, this agent reduces the amount
of cells bursting and is washed out
of the product prior to use.
Taking up to 100 minutes to
thaw out and use, the products
would be used in conjunction with
fresh supplies and will not replace
"It will reduce wastage and can
be used in situations where logistics
will not be able to deliver fresh sup-
plies from Australia," Leut-Cmdr
"These products could be poten-
tially used in resuscitative and bat-
With the technology still in its
early days, future use could see it
incorporated into platforms such
as amphibious ships to provide a
mobile surgical hospital in times of
humanitarian disaster relief.
Frozen blood to reduce supply turnover and increase shelf life
Progress: The ADF has partnered with the Red Cross Blood Service and
is leading the way in the development of deep freeze capability to increase
the shelf life of blood products for future surgical deployments.
Photo by LS Paul Berry
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