A new partnership between ORNGE and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is set to bring life-saving blood beyond the confines of the hospital.

According to ORNGE, the leading cause of death for anyone who has suffered a traumatic injury is hemorrhage, the only way to counter that is to have a blood transfusion to replace what has been lost.

Not something easily accessible for those being medically transported by ORNGE, until now.

A new “Blood on Board” program will stock blood from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in specialized coolers on ORNGE aircraft, allowing them to connect patients up quickly with the life-saving liquid, for up to 96 hours according to ORNGE’s Associate Medical Officer Dr. Michael Peddle.

“If we don’t use that blood during the time frame it is with us in the cooler, we want to be able to return it to the blood supply and the blood bank so there’s no wastage of those units given how limited our blood supplies can be.”

In 2021 the first instance of the Blood on Board program was initiated with a partnership between ORNGE and Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

Since then Peddle says over 100 units have been given to more than 50 patients which he considers a huge step forward to bringing blood to the patients where they need it and shortening their time to receiving transfusions.

The program will first roll out in the immediate Thunder Bay area this spring, with an expansion to the rest of ORNGE’s bases in the region, which includes Sioux Lookout and Kenora, over the next 12 to 24 months.

“As we start to develop partnerships with those other hospitals to get the blood supply available, develop the processes to have the blood available at the bases for it to be dispatched on our aircraft.”