Assistant Minister for Defence - Defence and Australian Red Cross frozen blood field trial

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The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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23 May 2014

The Australian Defence Force in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service this week field tested the development and supply of frozen blood products for use by the ADF.

Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert MP, today visited the Enoggera Health Centre to review the remarkable work that has been undertaken during the field trials.

“The aim of this innovative and collaborative partnership between the ADF and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is to dramatically extend the shelf life of blood components,” Mr Robert said.

“This is critical to ensuring a constant and stable supply can be provided to ADF personnel regardless of their location.

“The shelf life of fresh blood components varies and can be as short as five days for platelets, six weeks for red blood cells and up to 12 months for plasma, making it difficult to stockpile for overseas deployments of ADF personnel.

“The techniques being developed by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service will allow platelets, red blood cells and plasma to be stored at -80° Celsius for between two and 10 years.”

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service already has robust practices for freezing and thawing of blood components in the laboratory. However, these practices are not suitable in remote and military environments.

The project has developed methods for transporting the product safely at controlled temperatures over long distances, storing it at very low temperatures and then safely and quickly thawing the blood components without compromising their effectiveness.

“This collaborative project between the ADF and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service has produced excellent results that have the potential to save many ADF lives,” Mr Robert said.

“The uses for frozen blood products are not limited to the ADF and I am confident the work done under this project will also save the lives of many Australians who live in remote and rural areas of our country where there are substantial logistic and supply challenges.”

Following the field trials regulatory approval will be sought from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the National Blood Authority.

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Imagery is available through the Defence Image Library at

Media contacts:

Richard Briedis (Minister Robert's Office) (02) 6277 7730 or 0477 391 174

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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