Emergency rooms to experiment with artificial blood
If successful, fake blood offers several advantages
February 17, 1997
Web posted at: 9:20 p.m. EST
(CNN) -- Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania,
is about to become the first hospital in the United States to
experiment with using artificial blood in the emergency room.
The chemically derived product has already been tried in
elective surgery cases, and there have been no serious
problems. But it has never been used for emergency cases.
The plan is to use it on those who have been injured severely
and are thought to have a 50-50 chance of dying due to loss
In addition to getting the standard first aid, including
human blood transfusions, half will also get the blood
Because time is of the essence in such cases, neither the
patients nor their families will be asked for permission to
use the artificial blood. They will, however, have the option
of shifting to human blood later.
Use of the blood is being permitted under new U.S. Food and
Drug Administration rules. The premise is that in emergency
situations, the artificial blood can't hurt and it might very
If successful, blood offers several advantages
It will take a few years to find out if the blood works. Use
of the artificial blood is to be expanded into a number of
emergency rooms across the country, and at least 850 patients
who have been treated with the blood will be studied before
any conclusions are reached.
If the blood is successful, it offers several advantages over
For one thing, it will take some of the pressure off blood
banks, which often run low in their supply of human blood.
Also, since it does not need to be refrigerated, it could
easily be carried on ambulances.
And since it has not come from a human donor, there is no
risk of spreading disease.
Finally, there is no need to match blood types. One type, as
the saying goes, fits all.
Correspondent Dan Rutz contributed to this report.
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