Israeli company working with IDF to turn blood into freeze-dried powder.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICHPublished: JUNE 19, 2009 00:30Advertisement
An Israeli biotechnology company is working with the army to turn blood from newly enlisted soldiers into a freeze-dried powder - like coffee - and send it with them to the battlefield. If those soldiers are ever wounded, water could be added to produce their own blood instantly and create a lifesaving infusion.
Leading the research is Core Dynamics, a Ness Ziona firm active in the research and development of unique freezing, thawing and freeze-drying technologies for application in blood transfusion, cell preservation and tissue and organ transplantation.
OC Medical Corps Brig.-Gen. Dr. Nachman Ash announced the work at the IDF's medical training center in Tzrifin on Wednesday, in his first-ever briefing for health reporters.
If the idea proves itself, it could also have applications in civilian life.
Ash, an internal medicine specialist who entered his current post almost two years ago, also said that a Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professor developed for the IDF a compact, portable device with ceramic pipes that produces oxygen in the field for treating wounded soldiers, replacing heavy gas tanks that have to be carried around.
"We aim to convert the working model into a commercial device," Ash said. Another technology is a small battery-operated field device that ventilates the wounded on the battlefield and is so simple to operate that any medic can use it.
Ash and health reporters attended an exercise of soldiers entering a mock Palestinian village and firing on "terrorists." Four of the soldiers were seriously "wounded" - bags of red-liquid attached to their legs and foreheads spurted out in a realistic manner, and the victims, who wailed as if in pain, were treated by military medics.
The unusual press conference, which showed that the army is interested in reaching the public in a variety of ways, began with a promotional film the IDF Medical Corps made to interest young people in serving as military physicians, of which there is a serious shortage. In addition to just establishing the country's first-ever military medical school at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, the IDF has established a Web site that speaks in the language of teenagers to encourage the best of them to enlist for such service.
The Medical Corps is also now much more aware of the need to immediately inform the families of soldiers when they are wounded and to support them emotionally. Wounded soldiers are evacuated much more quickly from the battlefield, often undergoing blood transfusions and other procedures in the helicopter on the way to the hospital, Ash said. The Corps now invests in health-promotion efforts - including smoking cessation courses - not only among career soldiers but also for recruits, he said.
Ash revealed that, while in the past, one of the army's field hospitals was closed while the other deteriorated, the IDF plans to open a modern, innovative one within two years.
The Medical Corps, because of its unique functions and roles on the battlefield and closer to home, has great expertise in coping with trauma, readiness in treating victims of unconventional warfare, understanding the physiology of soldiers in extreme conditions, and environmental threats to soldiers. For example, during the current swine (H1N1) flu outbreaks, the Corps realized it had to take measures much more strict than those recommended by the Health Ministry to prevent the virus from spreading in close conditions from soldier to soldier. Anyone infected would be quarantined instead of just being sent home, Ash said.
The IDF is issuing a public tender for two health funds so that health insurers used by the general public could also serve soldiers for regular health problems, instead of them waiting for care in military clinics. Eventually, all four health funds could be included, with soldiers allowed to choose their health services supplier.
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