If ONR's Dr. Michael Given has his way, horrific scenes like those in Columbia Pictures' Black Hawk Down
, where an Army Ranger in Somalia's Mogadishu bleeds to death after his buddies desperately try to clamp his gushing femoral artery wound, won't happen again.
Given knows the gruesome reality that 50 percent of troops wounded in the battlefield die before they are evacuated to field medical units because they hemorrhage to death (a statistic unchanged since the Civil War). He also knows that 50,000 Americans die each year at the site of auto accidents because of uncontrollable bleeding. As head of ONR's Casualty Care and Management program, Given is providing funding for research on a remarkable granular mineral compound called QuikClot™, developed by Z-Medica, Inc. (www.z-medica.com
), a small company in Connecticut.
In testing funded by Given, where severe arterial hemorrhage was treated with standard dressings, aggressive resuscitation, other hemostatic agents, as well as QuikClot, the latter turned wounds that once were 100 percent fatal into wounds that were 100 percent nonfatal. QuikClot was the only product or treatment to do so. Fourteen days later, these findings convinced the FDA to approve QuikClot for clinical use in May 2002.
Last year, with conflict looming in Afghanistan, QuikClot was sent overseas with the UN for mine clearing. Another 50,000 bagged units were shipped to Iraq. An injured serviceman can apply the clotting powder himself, and an account of a marine doing exactly that during the fighting in Iraq, while waiting three days to get to a medical unit, is being told. The Department of Defense has confirmed reports of multiple uses of QuikClot in Iraq with lives saved when used appropriately with no adverse effects. QuikClot is now becoming standard Marine Corps issue for every backpack first-aid kit.
Poured directly onto or into a wound after pressure is first applied, QuikClot adsorbs all the liquid in the blood, and leaves behind the clotting factors. The material itself (refined zeolite) is indestructible. It can stay in the body until the injured is removed to medical care and changes neither in size nor consistency when wound fluids are fully absorbed, rendering it easily irrigated and/or aspirated.
It only took seven months for ONR to learn of QuikClot (through the Marine Corps), test it, and get it deployed to U.S. troops. It only took the FDA two weeks to approve it after that testing was completed. The product — already commercially available — is a remarkable medical advance for police and fire rescue units, EMTs, hikers, campers, and others far from local medical care. Release of the consumer version of QuikClot for home first aid use is slated for summer '03. Z-Medica is also planning clinicals to test anecdotal evidence that QuikClot could be helpful for the particular bleeding problems of diabetics, hemophiliacs, and coumadin users.