A Bloody Mess

Emergency research raises the question: Can trials without consent work?

Glenn McGee
Aug 1, 2006

From the moment of trauma, whether for wounded soldiers, victims of motor vehicle accidents, or children hit by bullets, the best solution to blood loss is, obviously, blood. But many ambulances don't carry blood because it is extremely volatile. Paramedics can offer saline solution, sometimes even laced with nonblood "expanders," but saline can't ferry oxygen around the bloodstream to keep cells alive.

Enter Polyheme, an oxygen-carrying blood substitute that could revolutionize emergency medicine. Polyheme is made from a modified hemoglobin molecule, and it carries oxygen. It is more resilient than blood, with a much longer shelf life and better tolerance of the conditions at the scene of a trauma and in transport. It does not need to be matched to a patient's blood type. And as a bonus, unlike an organ transplant or blood transfusion, there is no risk that a communicable disease will be passed in the process.

Oxygen-carrying...

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