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The IDF is currently trying out - but not yet using in the field - a $100 bandage that has been found to stop hemorrhages in about a minute. US Army experience has shown that the HemCon Bandage, battle-tested on US soldiers in Iraq, can save the lives of many wounded soldiers - a large number of whom die from uncontrolled hemorrhaging before they can be evacuated.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said it viewed medical treatment of soldiers in the field as very important and that the bandage was now being tested by its Medical Corps. If it were to be found suitable to the IDF's needs, the purchase of large numbers of them would be considered, it said.
The HemCon Bandage, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration three years ago, contains positively charged molecules of chitosan - a natural polymer derived from the exoskeletons of crab, shrimp and other crustaceans - that attract negatively charged red blood cells. While an ordinary gauze or tourniquet often has little effect in halting spurting wounds, the HemCon bandage triggers an adherent clot that halts the bleeding.
"You can have a hole in your heart, and 60 seconds later it's sealed," says Kenton Gregory, who invented it five years ago at the Oregon Medical Laser Center with a research grant from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
The crystalline structure of the chitosan is key to its ability to halt the hemorrhaging, said Gregory. "Test results on the bandage have conclusively demonstrated excellent results in stopping bleeding for trauma injuries like those experienced in battlefield conditions. With advanced hemorrhage control methods and devices, we estimate that 20 percent to 30% of all combat deaths can be prevented," he said.
A study of the bandage's successful use by US Army medics in Iraq and Afghanistan was subsequently published in the Journal of Trauma.
In 2004, the US Army named the HemCon Bandage as one of that year's "Top 10 Greatest Inventions." Its guidelines indicate the use of HemCon for rapid control of severe, life-threatening bleeding. The bandage allows the wound to quickly form a strong clot, enabling a patient to be transported, and offers rapid, strong adhesion to the injury site to seal the wound.
It is durable enough to withstand blunt force as well as extreme field conditions, including inclement weather, temperature and rugged terrain. It comes in a variety of sizes and configurations (the four-by-four-inch version costs $100 apiece). Packaged with a two-year shelf life, the bandages are stable at room temperature, simple to use and conform to curved or irregular wound surfaces. They are also easily removed with saline solution or water.
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