The safe and timely provision of blood is of crucial importance in the prevention and mitigation of morbidity and mortality due to trauma. The use of blood in the treatment of war casualties, soldiers as well as civilians, was analyzed retrospectively and the impact of massive blood transfusion on blood banking services and reserves of blood during the war in Sarajevo was assessed.
A retrospective analysis of 3,215 war casualties (1,815 civilians plus 1,400 military) who arrived to the casualty reception center of the State Hospital of Sarajevo during the period 11 May through 31 October 1992 was performed. Blood usage was reviewed in three stages: within 24 hours (h) of admission, after seven days of hospitalization, and after 30 days of hospitalization. The types of injury, survival rate, and blood-usage rate in a sample of 37 war casualties who required massive blood transfusions (MBT) during the period 11 May through 31 December 1992 was examined.
The civilian casualty rate in this series of patients was 56.5%. A total of 1,217/3,215 (37.9%) casualties were hospitalized. In this study, 16% (504/3,215) of total number of persons wounded received blood transfusion. Of these patients, 504/1,217 (41.4%) were transfused. A total of 971.1 liters of blood were transfused through 31 October 1992; 68% within 24 h of admission, 91% within the first seven days, and 100% within the first 30 days. From a total of 37 MBT recipients, 36 (97%) were injured by firearms. Survival rate among MBT patients was 30%. The MBT recipients comprised 2% of total hospitalized patients and 6% of total number of patients transfused. The amount of blood needed during episodes of MBT was 15% of total blood used through 31 December 1992.
Based on these data, prospective requirements for blood usage should take into account casualty triage, as follows: for each casualty transported to the hospital, hospitalized, or transfused, 0.302, 0.796, and 1.912 liters of blood respectively, will be needed for the first 30 days of treatment. Recipients of massive blood transfusions are a significant drain on blood reserves in war. This experience can be utilized in the development of revised guidelines for blood usage for an entire population affected by war.