World blood and plasma, which proved to be a

World
war two was a period of immense economic, social, and technological growth for
the world. New techniques and revolutionary advancements in the field of
medicine were introduced during world war two. World war two saw the
introduction of a revolutionized anesthesia, called Pentothal, which allowed
doctors to operate on patients for much longer than before during surgeries. The
discovery and use of sulfa drugs, such as penicillin and sulfanilamide during
the war proved pivotal in saving lives during the latter part of the war, and
also provided more manpower. Lastly, the war used the donation of blood and
plasma, which proved to be a large factor in saving lives in the battlefield. These
advancements proved useful both at home and abroad during the war. These
medical discoveries and advancements were effective and crucial during World
War Two.

            Although anesthetics had been common
in medicine for several years, it was not until a new anesthetic, named Pentothal
that medics were able to operate for periods longer than twenty minutes. This
was useful for surgeons in the war, because it led to a higher success rate in
surgeries. Unlike previous anesthetics, Pentothal’s effects have a short
duration, and is not followed by side effects such as nausea or dizziness. It is
not flammable and is easily transferred, making it ideal for military use
(Stearns, Michael M.). Its success was proven when tested at the Mayo Clinic, “it
is now administered in more than a quarter of all cases requiring anesthetics,
pentothal sodium has been used more than 40,000 times, with less than one death
in 10,000 operations” (Stearns,
Michael M.). Before this anesthetic was introduced, time was always incredibly
important during surgery. If a patient was under anesthesia for too long, they
were likely to collapse due to the inhalation. Because of this, surgeries were
often rushed, and a surgeon was often forced to choose between disfigurement and
amputation. As Stearns states, this was not the case during the war, after the
introduction of Pentothal, surgeries could safely take up to eight hours or
more.  The introduction of the new
anesthetic, named Pentothal, proved to be incredibly effective during the
second world war. Medics could operate on soldiers without being rushed and
being forced to make life-altering decisions. With more time to operate and
less side effects, Pentothal was incredibly useful during World War Two.

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            The accidental discovery of the
wonder drug penicillin as an antibiotic was tremendous in treating bacterial
diseases. Leading drug companies began to mass produce penicillin in order to protect
soldiers on battlefields from injuries that could lead to infection and
eventually gangrene. By the invasion of Normandy in 1944, pharmaceutical
companies had manufactured 100 billion units of penicillin each month. These units
were shipped to North Africa and the Pacific theater, where the penicillin was
distributed to treat Allied soldiers (Jones, Phil). Penicillin was used to
treat many bacterial diseases among soldiers, including venereal diseases. Germany
and the Axis powers lacked access to penicillin. This caused the Axis powers to
have less resistance to diseases, which led to a decrease in soldiers. This gave
the Allied powers an edge in manpower (Conniff, Richard). Conniff states that
approximately 100,000 men benefited from penicillin between D-Day and the
European surrender. Penicillin also saved thousands of soldiers’ lives in the
pacific theater. In addition to penicillin, the discovery of sulfanilamide
helped improve the decreased mortality rate during the second world war.
American soldiers were issued first aid pouches designed to be attached to the
soldier’s waist belt. The pouches contained a package of sulfa powder, which
when sprinkled over an open wound, would prevent infection. Sulfa powder and
tablets became the main tools carried by a combat medic during World War two. Sulfa
powder reduced the mortality rate of epidemics, such as meningitis, from 39% to
3.8% (Meyers, Morton A.). Sulfa drugs were extremely beneficial in providing an
advantage for the Allied powers over the Axis powers. This was due to the fact
that the Allied powers had ready access to penicillin, whereas the Axis powers
did not.

            Blood plasma, once thought to be
medical waste and useless, was discovered to be lifesaving in the war. Plasma,
the liquid part of blood, when reduced to flakes, could be stored for long
periods of time, ship long distances, and withstand any temperature. It eliminated
the need for blood type matching, because all plasma is the same. Plasma can be
dried, making it ideal for warfare, because no other equipment is needed
(Ellis, Charles H. and Thompson, Robert E.S.). Ellis and Thompson state that
plasma was used after the attack on Pearl Harbor to revive a soldier from the
shock of a wound, burn or loss of blood, and to strengthen them. The injection
of plasma on the battlefield if a soldier had been wounded would save a soldier’s
life (Ellis, Charles H. and Thompson, Robert E.S.). It would offset the feeling
of shock, which was the of the biggest cause of death on the battlefield.  Most importantly, dried blood plasma was
easily, safely, and fast produced in large quantities. Before the declaration
of war in 1941, four contracts had been made to manufacture dried blood plasma.
However, the amount of plasma depended on the amount of blood companies
received from the red cross, which could have put a limit on the amount of plasma
produced. However, blood donations throughout the war ensured there was enough
plasma for the war (The Plasma Program). The discovery of plasma was immensely important
for the welfare of the soldiers. Plasma solved the problem of the onset of
shock, which was the largest cause of death on the battlefield. Plasma was
incredibly important for warfare because it saved a large number of lives and
allowed them to return to fighting in the war.  

            

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