Blood bag

Blood bags are crucial components in healthcare systems worldwide. Blood bags are vital in situations like surgeries, and accidents, and for patients with medical conditions requiring regular transfusions, such as anemia or cancer. Carl Waldemar Walter, an American surgeon played an effortful role in the invention of Blood Bag. At the time of World War 2, he works on it. Walter’s efforts revolutionized the process of blood storage.

Introduction of Carl Walter

Carl Waldemar Walter (1905 – May 5, 1992) was a surgeon, inventor, and professor at Harvard Medical School for 40 years. Walter is best known for inventing the plastic bags still universally used to collect and transport blood. Walter has been credited with founding one of the world’s first blood banks (1934) and the invention of the first blood collection bag.

He had created a distinct identity in medicine. He was himself a skilled surgeon; but more than the surgery, he had seen many patients dying due to infection due to the environment in which the surgeries were done. He did a lot of research to sterilize the instruments used during surgery. Walter worked at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, USA. He was also known for his prolific work in the advocacy, application, and study of asepsis.

His world’s first blood bank was in a basement room at Harvard an obscure location chosen because some trustees thought the storage and use of human blood was immoral and unethical. He invented the blood bag 15 years later, making it possible to end a cumbersome and dangerous procedure by which doctors pumped blood directly from donor to patient via paraffin-coated glass tubes heated over alcohol lamps.

Blood bag

What is the blood bag?

Blood bags are typically made of medical-grade plastic materials such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), polyolefin, or a combination of plastics that are biocompatible and compatible with blood components.  A blood bag is a specialized, sterile plastic bag used for collecting, storing, transporting, and transfusion blood and blood products. Blood bags are manufactured under strict aseptic conditions to prevent contamination. They are typically sterilized using gamma irradiation or ethylene oxide gas sterilization.

Blood bags are stored under controlled conditions to maintain the viability and safety of the blood components. Red blood cells are typically stored at refrigerated temperatures (between 1°C and 6°C), while plasma and platelets may be stored at room temperature or frozen depending on the specific requirements.

Carl Walter work’s about blood bag

Walter studied medicine at Harvard Medical School in the 1930s; It was then closely associated with the technique of blood transfusion. Once, while assisting in one such blood transfusion operation, he saw firsthand how blood flow could be blocked by a clot, how the transfusion specialist and the nurse would be confused, and what Rune had to endure in all this, and at the same time, he had said that there must be a better way.

A few years later, Walter started a blood bank in Brigram. At that time, he used to collect blood from local donors and store it in glass bottles mixed with citrate and supply it to local hospitals as required. Later, when Cohn began experimenting with blood fractionation, Walter supplied him with blood for these experiments.

Walter also now began to believe that airborne germs between blood handling bottles, needles, tubing, and cuffs could enter the bloodstream and cause blood-borne infections.

Invention of Blood bag

He tried soft plastic bags instead of glass bottles, plastic tubes instead of rubber tubes, and plastic syringes instead of glass syringes. Using a new plastic each time, he conducted several experiments to see which types of plastics could be ‘sterilized’ by applying heat, or which types of plastics would survive freezing.

Some plastics crack when kept in the fridge, some plastics break during sterilization due to temperature and pressure, and some release harmful chemicals into the bloodstream. Walter spent 5 years experimenting with such pictures on the dining room table of his house and finally found the right formula. A plastic bag the size of a pillow enough to hold a pint of blood had no adverse effect on blood components; she could survive extreme temperature fluctuations without appreciating it. In addition to the US government, as expected, she remained invulnerable even after being dropped 2000 feet from the plane. It was through Walter’s tireless efforts that he found out which plastic would succeed in all these difficult tests.

Walter knew that Edwin Kohn an American biochemists and clinicians was looking for alternatives to glass. So, one day, Walter came to Cohn’s laboratory with a plastic bag full of blood and placed the bag at Cohn’s feet. He intended to test the strength of the bag you chose. He instantly recognized that Walter had the option he wanted, but it was not shown in front of him.

Fenwal company

Walter’s neighbor Leger Fenn agreed to invest in the production of this bag and together they started a company called ‘Fenwal’. The company, which started in a village near Boston, became a model of excellent management that rapidly progressed towards growth. By employing disabled people, the company not only provided employment to them, but also made a profit for all due to the good policies of the company. Over time, the company was acquired by Baxter Laboratories in Chicago and became a force in the global blood market.

Importance of Blood Bag

Walter’s efforts revolutionized the process of blood storage. Occupying less space than a glass bottle, this plastic bag not only kept the sterilized blood safe but also made the bag very convenient for the doctor and fellow staff to handle during the transfusion. This blood bag became a multipurpose bag for storing blood and using it in many ways.

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