Paramedics in Colerain Township are gearing up for a big change. They have always relied on traditional IV saline solution to help keep their bleeding trauma patients alive, but any week now, they'll get the green light they've been waiting for - to use a trial blood product called PolyHeme.
Colerain paramedic Steve Conn believes it will make a big difference.
"I think it will make an impact in 20 to 30 people's lives every year for our own department and nationwide I think its going to make a huge impact."
PolyHeme is an alternative blood product that doctors expect will save lives. Saline Iv's are just made of salt water which keeps blood pressure up, but that's it.
PolyHeme acts more like real blood, because it carries life saving oxygen.
Dr. Donald Lacasto is heading the study here.
"It's important that when somebody's in shock , you get oxygenated blood to essential organs. Primarily the brain , the liver and the heart and Polyheme will accomplish that whereas normal saline does not."
PolyHeme is made of donated red blood cells, the ones that hold onto oxygen.They are separated then added to a universally compatible fluid, so unlike real blood, it does not have to be typed or cross matched which takes time.
And its shelf life, while refrigerated, is much longer than real blood. The problem is that PolyHeme is still in the study stage and we don't know about all its effects, both good and bad. And only half of those who qualify will get it.
Dr. Lacasto explains,"the paramedic will open up an envelope, they will not know what that envelope says until they open it, so it will be completely randomized....as to what arm of the study they will go in."
Enrolling a patient in this experimental study without their permission is a tricky issue. But researchers argue the people who need it most will be in no shape to read consent forms and sign papers. They will have to meet certain criteria, after that, whether a patient receives it or not is up to chance.
Because of that, the company went to the FDA and got what's called a waiver of informed consent which allows emergency workers to administer this trial product in somebody without getting consent.
The PolyHeme study will be conducted in 25 trauma centers nationwide.
In the tri-state, paramedics in Harrison, Harrison Township, Crosby Township,Colerain, Whitewater Township, and Cleves will take part.
If you do not wish to take part in the study,, you can call the PolyHeme Hotline at 558-5786.