Manga comic helps spread the word on TXA

21 September 2012

An image from the cartoon TXA

A recent speaker in the SRMRC seminar series has produced a new comic book designed to promote the use in Emergency Departments of a drug called tranexamic acid, which helps patients suffering from bleeding.

Tranexamic acid (also known as TXA) is given to stop or reduce heavy bleeding. When a patient bleeds, the body forms clots to stop the bleeding. In some people these break down causing too much bleeding. Tranexamic acid works by stopping the clots from breaking down and so reduces the unwanted bleeding.

Ian Roberts, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has played a key role in developing the comic, called TXA. He also conducted an SRMRC seminar in February on the scientific evaluation of trauma care.

He devised a storyline in which staff at an emergency department treat injured people after two explosions. Professional artist Emma Vieceli and colourist Paul Duffield used the manga style to set the scene. The team hopes the cartoon will communicate the latest TXA-related research findings to doctors, nurses and paramedics working on the frontline of treatment.

Professor Roberts spoke with Science Omega magazine about how the magazine came about: “TXA can significantly reduce a trauma patient’s risk of bleeding to death. If TXA is administered within three hours of injury, it can reduce a patient’s chances of bleeding to death by about 30 per cent,” he says.

An image from the cartoon TXA

“I think that humans are programmed to be receptive to narrative,” he explained. “People are not so good at remembering facts unless those facts are delivered as part of a story. Throughout human history, stories have been used to pass on information. This is how the brain works. What if I were to tell you that the relative risk of death with tranexamic acid, within three hours of injury, is 0.72 with a confidence interval of 0.68? No part of the brain is ready for that.

“It’s all about being original. In previous attempts to stand out, we have made films and written songs. I play the TXA song to people at conferences and they laugh. Laughter is good because it represents an emotional connection. Emotional content makes stories memorable.”