Mini Blood Banks Save Lives in Remote Locations

A basic tenet of medical care – transfusing blood – is often unavailable in the developing world, but a cutting-edge blood transfer system called ProBlood is making live-saving red blood cells available even in the most remote locations.

ProBlood is an innovative system that acts a mini blood bank in a pack, allowing red blood cells and plasma to be separated for immediate use in critical situations where there is no blood centrifuge center available. Every day across the world, situations arise when someone is at risk of dying simply because they do not have access to a blood transfusion. Natural disasters, rescue operations and remote maternity clinics are just a few of the reasons ProBlood’s makers, Hemacon, developed a solution. ProBlood makes it possible for separated blood to be transferred, whereas in the past only whole blood was available. Hemacon designed ProBlood to be an alternative to traditional high g-force blood centrifugation, which allows the blood to be processed with less stress on the red blood cells.

Gravity is all that is needed to get the ProBlood system into gear. The whole blood donation is pulled by gravity through a leukocyte reduction filter, which removes potentially harmful blood-borne diseases and white blood cells. The plasma is then separated from the blood over a hollow fiber separation filter system, leaving the patient with access to plasma with high quality clotting factors. An entire unit of donated blood can be separated in under an hour using ProBlood, which quickly delivers safe red blood cells and plasma to critical patients, without the need for electricity or extensive handling.

ProBlood systems include a donor blood bag, needle, filter and processing component to separate the red blood cells and plasma, allowing them to be immediately administered or temporarily stored in a blood bag. With this system, patients around the world will have rapid access to high quality blood on a consistent basis. Each blood bag can also be stored up to 42 days if refrigerated, furthering increasing the availability of blood.

Hemacon’s mission to create ProBlood stemmed from some staggering statistics: more than one third of all maternity mortalities in developing nations are directly linked to hemorrhaging. Add in the complex logistics of providing safe blood to remote locations, and this statistic became a problem that Hemacon couldn’t ignore. Hemacon stepped in to help these mothers and drastically increase their access to a safe blood supply.

Finding blood donors is a problem in itself, with less than 0.25 percent contributing to blood supplies in the developing world, as compared to 5 percent donating blood in the Western world. By creating the ProBlood separation system, Hemacon has opened up a vital piece of the medical toolkit to the world’s poor. Hemacon is also developing blood separation systems to provide blood specially for pediatric anemia patients and for use in neonatal care. Additionally, patients requiring preplanned surgeries with expected high blood loss can use the ProBlood system for an autologous blood donation, which uses the patient’s own blood to combat blood loss during surgery. This process not only minimizes the risks for patients in surgery, but also allows the autologous blood donation to be collected quickly, safely and easily on site with the ProBlood system.

Georganne Hassell

Sources: HighBeam Research, Hemacon
Photo: USA Today