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The Bellamy challenge: it's about time
  1. Geoffrey P Dobson1,
  2. H L Letson1 and
  3. D Tadaki1,2
  1. 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Heart and Trauma Research Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Department of Regenerative Medicine, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Prof Geoffrey P Dobson, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Heart and Trauma Research Laboratory, James Cook University, Queensland 4811, Australia; geoffrey.dobson{at}


In 1984, Col. Ronald Bellamy launched a worldwide challenge to develop a new resuscitation fluid to aid survival after catastrophic blood loss on the battlefield. In 1996, after careful compromise among need, cube weight and efficacy, the US military and later coalition forces adopted 6% hetastarch (HES) fluids for early resuscitation. In the intervening years, evidence has amassed indicating that the HES fluids may not be safe, and in June 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that HES solutions should not be used to treat patients with hypovolaemia or the critically ill. We review the unique challenges of early battlefield resuscitation, why the ‘Bellamy challenge’ remains open and discuss a number of forward-looking strategies that may help to solve the problem. The first two pillars of resuscitation that we believe have not been adequately addressed are rescuing and stabilising the heart (and brain) and the vascular system. The ‘ideal’ resuscitation fluid needs to nurture the heart and body slowly back to health, and not ‘shock’ it a second time with unnatural colloids or large volumes of unphysiological saline-based solutions.

  • Trauma Management
  • Vascular Surgery

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