The implementation of a multinational "walking blood bank" in a combat zone: The experience of a health service team deployed to a medical treatment facility in Afghanistan

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2015 May;78(5):949-54. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000618.


Background: We present here a description of the experience in whole-blood transfusion of a health service team deployed to a medical treatment facility in Afghanistan from June 2011 to October 2011. The aim of our work was to show how a "walking blood bank" could provide a sufficient supply.

Methods: We gathered the blood-group types of military personnel deployed to the theater of operations to evaluate our "potential walking blood bank," and we compared these data with our needs.

Results: Blood type frequencies among our "potential walking blood bank" were similar to those observed in European or American countries. Our resources could have been limited because of a low frequency of B blood type and negative rhesus in our "potential walking blood bank." Because of the large number of potential donors in the theater of operations, the risk of blood shortage was quite low and we did not face blood shortage despite significant transfusion requirements. Actually, 93 blood bags were collected, including rare blood types like AB and B blood types.

Conclusion: In our experience, this international "walking blood bank" provided a quick, safe, and sufficient blood supply. More research in this area is needed, and our results should be confirmed by further prospective trials.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, level V.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Blood Banks / organization & administration*
  • Blood Transfusion / methods*
  • Europe
  • Hospitals, Military*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Military Personnel*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States
  • Workforce
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*