News Room


Thursday, January 7, 2021 San Juan Regional Medical Center Supplying Whole Blood for Critically Injured Patients

San Juan Regional Medical Center recently became one of the first Trauma Centers in New Mexico to utilize whole blood for volume resuscitation of critically injured and ill patients.   

Whole blood used to be the only option for patients needing a massive transfusion after surgery or a major trauma. However, in the 1970s, the transition was made from whole blood to blood separated into the components plasma, platelets and red blood cells. Using component blood helped reduce waste, increase storage time and allowed a tailored approach to treatment.  By 1990, component blood was used almost exclusively in trauma surgery. Recent studies by trauma centers and the military have shown that treatment of patients with traumatic hemorrhagic shock, caused by significant blood loss, utilizing whole blood reduced mortality by 10 percent compared to component therapy.   

Seeing the proven benefits of utilizing whole blood, San Juan Regional Medical Center has established a stored whole blood transfusion program. Our first units of whole blood arrived on November 20, 2020, and were utilized that same day. Whole blood is maintained by the SJRMC Blood Bank and as part of an immediate trauma program protocol can be provided to the AirCare helicopter as well as internally within the hospital for treatment.

“We are very thankful to have a whole blood transfusion program. The vast majority of rural hospitals don't have the capability to have a blood bank to tailor blood products for hemorrhaging patients,” said Emergency Department physician Dr. Brad Campbell.“We are the second hospital, behind only to UNM, to have access to whole blood.”

In addition to reducing mortality, available clinical data suggests that whole blood is superior to component therapy in the treatment of a life-threatening hemmorhage, and using a single donor leads to less risk of infection.

“Since patients bleed whole blood; it makes sense to replace it with whole blood,” Campbell said.

San Juan Regional Medical Center’s Blood Bank currently receives two units of whole blood a week. It can be stored for 16 days.

Back to Top