Improvised blood transfusion cooler

Contributed by BBC Radio Suffolk

Improvised blood transfusion cooler

Steph Wiles, from Ipswich, came into the BBC Suffolk building with a fascinating object for us to add.

Her father, Frederick Selwood, was a specialist engineer, a profession classed as a 'reserved occupation' at the start of WW2.

However, he enlisted anonymously and ended up in West Africa as a staff sergeant.

US planes stopped over for refuelling and repair, and he soon became known for coming up with handy engineering solutions. It wasn't long before his reputation reached the nearby field hospital.

"One morning he was approached by a senior surgeon who wondered if there was anything that could be done to keep blood at a transfusable temperature during operations as in the desert temperatures," said Steph.

"This is just one of the many bits he made and work like thus: the length diameter, the sliding top valve and 25 turns on the bolt were precision-made to attach compatibly to the existing hospital equipment. Made from bits of left of plane, it sat inside a glass tube and allowed the exact measure of blood to trickle down during transfusion. The outer glass was cooled manually by someone holding cooled cloths against it. Crude, but it worked."

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