Today is World Blood Donor Day, a day raising the awareness of the importance of donating blood.

In 2014, we became the second air ambulance service in the country to carry blood. This innovation allowed the crew to start administering pre-hospital blood transfusions on scene – a potentially life saving procedure.

WHY DOES GIVING BLOOD SAVE LIVES?

Blood is given to patients who are bleeding heavily and who have very low blood pressure. In these instances, patients are often unable to get sufficient oxygen to their vital organs.

Transfusing blood to a patient delivers oxygen around their body, giving them the best possible chance of survival.

HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?

To safely store and transport blood it must be chilled to 4oc in specialist boxes. Prior to use the blood is fed through a heated hand-held device to warm it up to body temperature. This small bit of specialist battery operated equipment costs £3,000 and weighs less than 1kg.

We carry O Negative blood onboard our helicopter and Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs). O Negative blood cells are “universal” meaning they can be transfused to almost any patient in need. Only around 7 –8% of the population have O Negative blood.

We combine O Negative blood cells together with ‘Fresh Frozen Plasma’ or FFP. The red blood cells carry oxygen whilst the FFP carries the clotting factors needed to help stop the bleeding. On average we provide blood transfusions twice a week to patients in critical conditions.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

£100 pays for a person in a critical condition to receive a unit of blood. This covers the blood and plasma, and the ongoing costs of the storage of each unit. But you can give blood for free.  

If you plan on to stay away from needles you can still be a Thames Valley Air Ambulance Hero and help us to remain at the frontline of saving lives by making a donation.