Whole blood transfusion is a practical option to counter the lack of supply and lack of clotting factors.

Supplying blood to the battlefront has been an ever-growing challenge since its inception in the First World War, when blood collection and transfusions came of age. During the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom, blood supplies were difficult to acquire and maintain because of the dynamic and austere environment of the battlefield. To ensure adequate supplies to meet patients’ needs during emergency situations, some units collected and transfused whole blood.

During the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Spring 2003), our forward surgical team (FST) received our first call that medical evacuation helicopters were bringing in several severely wounded casualties. Unknown to us at that time, this experience would also be our first time of collecting whole blood.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought many changes, including the way the US...

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