File photo of an 061 helicopter

First out-of-hospital blood transfusion in Andalucía is carried out by an air ambulance crew in Ronda

The aim of the 061 health service helicopter initiative is to save many unavoidable deaths of patients suffering haemorrhagic shock following a serious trauma


The first out-of-hospital blood transfusion in Andalucía was carried out in Ronda on May Day, on a 31-year-old man whose left leg had to be amputated.

The 112 Andalucía control room mobilised the local critical care and emergency services as well as the 061 medical helicopter. The joint action of medical staff and the recent decision to allow blood transfusions in the 061 air team in Malaga meant that the patient, who had gone into hypovolemic shock, could be given the transfusion.

His condition then stabilised and improved and the patient was then flown by helicopter to the Hospital Clínico Universitario Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga, where he underwent immediate trauma surgery. He is currently in the intensive care unit of the hospital.

Project to extend across Andalucía

This transfusion is the first to be carried out by healthcare professionals from the Malaga air team, which is piloting the project 'Transfusion of blood components in out-of-hospital emergencies (TREX)'.

The initiative began last year with the air emergency team in Malaga with the aim of transferring its use to the other teams in Andalucía located in Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz), Cordoba, Baza (Granada) and Seville.

The aim of the Andalusian Health Service initiative is to introduce the use of concentrated O negative red blood cells which are used for emergency transfusions, to the air teams across Andalucía. The hope is that it will save many unavoidable deaths of patients suffering haemorrhagic shock following a serious trauma.

Serious trauma patients

The managing director of the 061 Health Emergency Centre, Fernando Ayuso, pointed out that "the group of patients who will benefit most from this practice will be, as in this first case of transfusion, serious trauma patients (traffic accidents, road traffic accidents, falls, etc.), also including, to a lesser extent, patients with pathologies such as aortic aneurysm or digestive and postpartum haemorrhages."

The 061 health emergency centre assisted 5,900 trauma patients in Andalucía in 2021, with a total of 575 severe trauma patients being attended by the air teams from January 2020 to October 2021.

The regional heads of the project are Ernesto Muñoz, a nurse from the 061 Provincial Service in Malaga, and María Dolores Fernández, director of the Transfusion Centre in Huelva. Muñoz added that "For the early replacement of oxygen transporters, we must develop a basic resuscitation strategy for trauma patients with massive bleeding, which includes the early administration of blood components."

In addition to the Malaga and Huelva Transfusion Centres, the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria de Málaga is collaborating in the project.

In order to implement the project, the 061 Health Emergency Centre and the Andalusian Network of Transfusion Medicine have trained the professionals involved in the administration of the blood and have drawn up a transfusion procedure for extreme emergencies and traceability with the Haematology Unit of the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria de Málaga. Work has now begun to obtain authorisation from the Junta de Andalucía to convert the provincial 061 service in Malaga into a depository and transfusion centre for blood components.