Saturday the 1st of July was like any other Saturday when Blood Bank Scientist Catherine Secen-Bowlen turned up for her shift at the laboratory in Geelong where she’s worked for the past 19 years. Not long into her shift, however, it became apparent that it wasn’t like any normal Saturday. Catherine received a call from the neighbouring St John of God Hospital. The doctors required blood urgently for a patient that was bleeding out in the operating theatre.
Shortly after, there was another call from the hospital. This time a different patient was bleeding heavily as a result of surgical complications.
Catherine answered a third call that day. A patient had been found unconscious in their home, bleeding heavily and taken to Geelong Hospital. They too required blood.
Catherine remained composed, something she attributes to her years of training, and sprang into action to match the life-saving blood the patients desperately needed, all the while acutely aware that every minute was critical. While having three urgent cases in one afternoon is unusual, it’s common for Clinical Labs to provide urgent blood products for patients who are at risk of bleeding to death. This is where a Massive Transfusion Protocol plays a critical role. It is a systematic way of dealing with a critical situation.
“Giving blood is dangerous. You give the wrong blood to the wrong patient and it’s likely to be fatal. The patient might need red cells, platelets and plasma so it’s complex anyway but when the patient is actively bleeding it becomes time critical and that’s where the massive transfusion protocol comes into play,” said Dr Chris Barnes, Head of Haematology at Australian Clinical Labs.
“The massive transfusion protocol gives us a system of blood transfusion and blood transfusion support for the patient. It involves close communication with the scientists, haematologist and the clinical staff to ensure that the appropriate product is being provided at the appropriate time.”
Luckily all three patients pulled through that afternoon thanks to the clinicians and the team of laboratory staff behind the scenes.
“We were proud to support our local hospitals who played a huge part in saving the lives of these patients. We take blood transfusion very seriously and doctors can be reassured that contemporary blood management is available through the use of massive transfusion protocols through Australian Clinical Labs,” Dr Barnes said.