Florida Keys

A man needed a blood transfusion — quickly. This Keys rescue crew was ready.

As of last month, the Monroe County Fire Rescue helicopter crew has the ability to perform blood transfusions on patients who are on their way to Miami-area trauma centers.

Just 17 days after they added the transfusions on May 9, a Miami Gardens man who had been cut by a boat propeller badly needed blood after an incident offshore of Big Pine Key.

Osmany Zamora was rushed to Sunshine Key Marina in the Florida Keys, where rescue workers were waiting and airlifted on Trauma Star to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Flight Nurse Jorge Bolivar and Flight Medic Tony Perez were aboard Trauma Star during the rescue.

In a rural area like the Keys, the role of a blood transfusion is critical due to the flight time from the Lower Keys Medical Center on Stock Island to the three closest trauma centers, Kendall Regional Trauma Center, Jackson Memorial Hospital South, and Jackson Ryder Trauma Center.

It takes 50 to 55 minutes.

Zamora had significant blood loss and his blood pressure had dropped to dangerous levels, said county spokeswoman Kristen Livengood.

“Zamora was stabilized upon arriving to the mainland hospital,” Livengood said. “Until recently, restoring blood loss inflight was limited to saline solutions, which will not restore the oxygen carrying capacity of blood in the body.”

“It saved his life,” said his wife Ivon Zamora.

Medical personnel agreed.

“It is very possible that we would be telling a different story about this accident if blood wasn’t available on the inflight transfers,” said Chief Trauma Star Flight Nurse Lynda Rusinowski. “The addition of blood on the helicopter gives the flight crew a tremendous tool for stabilizing a patient before reaching a specialty hospital.”