A razor nick during a much-too-close-shave ten years ago may result in hundreds of thousands of lives saved in the future. Scientist Frank Hursey was working with absorptive materials back in the late 80’s when he cut himself shaving. He picked up a volcanic mineral he’d been studying and decided to try it on his bleeding wound. The product worked so well as a coagulant that Hursey set to work doing further testing.
After three patents and ten years of testing and development in universities, hospitals, the U.S. Marine Warfighting Lab, the Marine Corps Systems Command, and the Office of Naval Research, QuikClot(tm) is now ready for prime time. It is a granulated material packaged for individual use that can be poured directly into a profusely bleeding wound to effect coagulation within seconds. Tests conducted for ONR by Dr. Hasan B. Alam at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences were so impressive that the FDA cleared the product earlier this month. Acquisition by the Marine Corps seems imminent, and there is also interest in the product at Joint Staff, Army and Special Forces. The product is already on the ground with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"The exact nature of QuikClot(tm) is proprietary," says Bart Gullong of Z-Medica in Newington, CT, makers of the product (www.z-medica.com). "But, the basic ingredient is found in cosmetics and non-dairy creamers. It is chemically and biologically inert, and is non-botanical, so it offers no inherent risk of disease transmission and is non-allergenic."
QuikClot(tm) rapidly absorbs all the liquid in the blood, and leaves behind the clotting factors which then get to work immediately. The material itself is indestructible (it is heated to 800F during preparation) and costs roughly $20 per unit. It has an extended shelf life, and remains viable in extreme temperatures. It can stay in the body until the injured is removed to medical care, and, since it is mineral in nature, it changes neither in size nor consistency when wound fluids are fully absorbed, rendering it easily irrigated and/or aspirated. A version of the product is also being developed for home and veterinary use.
QuikClot(tm) comes in 3.5 oz packets that can be easily opened and self-applied with one hand, or buddy-applied. "The simplicity, stability and cost will allow combatants to carry a pouch in their pack for self or buddy use, and that is the plan once manufacturing capability is up to speed — about 100,000 units per month," says Gullong.
"This is a major advance in casualty care," says Lieutenant Commander Dave Street of the Office of Naval Research. "Battlefield deaths due to massive blood loss remain at around 50 percent — a statistic that has not changed since the Civil War. Anything that changes this will represent a greatly increased chance of survival for the wounded."