STBTC and its partners celebrate one-year anniversary of Brothers in Arms
For patients like George Ortiz, the program has been lifesaving.
Ortiz, a construction worker from Jourdanton, suffered a severe leg injury last year while on the job, causing a dramatic loss in blood.
“What I remember is standing on top of the hole-drilling machine and removing some pins so that the rest of the stem that drills the hole could come down. Then the machine squished my leg. It felt like it tore it off," he said.
The therapy that helped save his life – a transfusion of specially collected and tested whole blood – came through the Brothers in Arms program. San Antonio is the only city in the nation with a broad network to transport whole blood to trauma sites, which is transforming emergency response in mass trauma situations.
Ortiz went in and out of consciousness as his coworkers and emergency personnel raced to save his life. A Department of Public Safety trooper applied a tourniquet at one point.
Ortiz was evacuated via ambulance and then helicopter, and he received the Brothers in Arms transfusion on the way to the hospital.
He is alive today because of Brothers in Arms blood donors like Michael Noriega, who had donated just days before the accident.
There are currently 484 active Brothers in Arms donors.
As it heads into its second year, Brothers in Arms is expanding to more emergency rooms in San Antonio and the surrounding area.
“We have given whole blood to more than 140 patients in pre-hospital settings, and we’re excited to say there has been at least a 25 percent decrease in deaths related to hemorrhage in trauma patients,” said Dr. Donald Jenkins, deputy director of military health at the Institute of Trauma and Surgery at UT Health San Antonio and University Health System.
“The continued success and growth of our Brothers in Arms program depends on growing this pool of committed donors,” said Elizabeth Waltman, COO of STBTC. “Brothers in Arms participants are among our most reliable donors, with more than 80 percent of them showing up to scheduled appointments to give blood.”
Other guest speakers included Dr. C. J. Winckler, Deputy Medical Director of the San Antonio Fire Department, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff talking about the program’s significance to the SAFD and the community.
The program represents a collaboration involving:
- South Texas Blood & Tissue Center
- UT Health Science Center
- Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC)
- University Health System
- San Antonio Military Medical Center
- U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
- San Antonio Fire Department
- Medical helicopter services Air Evac Lifeteam/Methodist Aircare, PHI Inc., and San Antonio AirLIFE
The program was established in San Antonio with support from a grant provided by the San Antonio Medical Foundation, USAA and Union Pacific Railroad.
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