New Hanover Regional Medical Center's AirLink helicopters are now carrying plasma in addition to packed red blood cells to help critical patients who have suffered injuries that cause severe blood loss.
Red blood cells administered in the field carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body while plasma helps with clotting to slow blood loss. Donor blood can be separated into specific components, such as red blood cells, plasma, or platelets, to help more patients by focusing on their specific need.
“The ability to deliver plasma to the bleeding patient before arrival at a trauma center has been shown to improve patient outcomes. We are very excited to continue to offer cutting edge therapy to the patients we serve throughout the region” said William F. Powers IV, MD, FACS, Medical Director of AirLink/VitaLink Critical Care Transport.
An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that administration of plasma in addition to standard resuscitation procedures may reduce the risk of later complications from hemorrhage and shock.
AirLink is among the first helicopters in the state to offer plasma in the field, continuing its pattern of bringing high quality patient care to the bedside of the patients it serves. Every AirLink helicopter has highly specialized equipment including ultrasound, laboratory testing, high flow nasal cannulas, ventilators, and cardiac monitors with hemodynamic monitoring systems. AirLink began carrying packed red blood cells aboard each helicopter in 2017.
AirLink 1 is based in Richlands in Onslow County and AirLink 2 is based in Whiteville in Columbus County. Both helicopters can fly up to 150 miles in any direction at speeds reaching 150 mph and are fully licensed to operate in both North and South Carolina.