23-Jan-2023 Source: Air Methods
For the more than four million Americans who rely on lifesaving blood transfusions each year, January is a very special month. National Blood Donor Month was first observed in January 1970 when President Richard Nixon recognized the need to thank those who selflessly donate blood and to encourage others to start donating.
The air medical crews with LifeSave Kansas have a special appreciation for blood donors. As the only air medical service provider in the state carrying blood in flight, they know the importance of donors.
For rural communities, time is often an enemy in trauma situations, making air medical service with blood products on board vitally important. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the administration of thawed blood plasma during pre-hospital air medical transport resulted in a lower 30-day mortality rate than standard resuscitation alone.
“All of our aircraft throughout the state carry blood, and we can administer it inflight to patients suffering from severe blood loss and at risk for hemorrhagic shock, which causes organ failure and can lead to death,” said Clayton Cox, account executive for Air Methods, the parent company of LifeSave Kansas and the largest air medical service in the country. “Being able to give donated blood makes a significant difference in the patient’s survival rate, and LifeSave is the only carrier in the state with blood on board.”
Kansas, like most other states, experienced significant blood shortages last year. According to the American Red Cross, the supply has thankfully returned to a stable level. However, the need for donors never ends. Blood can’t be created in a lab – it is only obtained from people willing to donate. Between its short shelf life and the fact that someone in the United States receives a transfusion every two seconds, donors truly are heroes in our medical system.
“We can’t overstate the importance of blood and the ability to give it to patients quickly in an emergency,” said Leann Briggs, flight nurse with LifeSave. “Donations make it possible for us to carry it on board our aircraft and administer it to patients in life-threatening situations. There aren’t enough ways to say thank you to the donors who make this possible.”