Diseases & therapies
Benjamin Kosch was drawn to helping people during his civilian service with the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (a German aid agency). “I was able to help many of the patients I met, even if only to bring a smile to their face,” says the voluntary paramedic, whose outdoor pursuits include mountaineering and ice climbing.
Today, Benjamin is a shift supervisor in Purification 1 at the Vienna human prothrombin complex manufacturing site. When asked what makes him proud about his work, he does not waver for even a second: “It’s the team that works here. We all understand that we have to deliver on time. I feel lucky to have such dedicated colleagues who are so invigorated by helping others. Such spirit does not exist in many jobs.”
“Using fractionated plasma protein products is a core part of what we do every day in transfusion medicine,” says Jeannie Callum, MD, FRCPC of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.
It is late afternoon when a patient is brought to Sunnybrook, Canada’s largest trauma centre. The elderly man was hit by a car while crossing a road. He has severe injuries to his head, chest and pelvis. “To complicate matters, he has an irregular heart rhythm so he is on warfarin to help prevent him having a stroke. But warfarin prevents clotting during bleeding so it accelerates blood loss,” she adds. Fortunately, the operating team administers prothrombin complex concentrates over five minutes and quickly normalises the patient’s ability to clot.
“We know that rapid reversal of anticoagulants for patients with serious bleeding (usually intracranial haemorrhage) improves their chance of survival and gives better neurological outcomes. Prothrombin complex concentrate is faster, safer, and logistically simpler than our only other option, plasma transfusion,” Jeannie explains.
Procedures like this are done every day at Sunnybrook. “We deal with patients with postpartum bleeding, gunshot wounds, unstable cardiac problems and brain haemorrhages,” says Jeannie. “There is no time to waste.”
Diseases & therapies