Bovine Hemoglobin Makes a Spectacular Save

Time was running out for the 21-year-old whose immune system was inexplicably and relentlessly destroying her red blood cells. After 45 days, with her organs failing, physicians from Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., tried a last resort: bovine hemoglobin. And it worked (J. Mullon et al., "Transfusions of polymerized bovine hemoglobin in a patient with severe autoimmune hemolytic anemia," New England Journal of Medicine, 342:1638-43, June 1, 2000). "I decided to go for any red cell substitute I could find after watching this patient's transfusions hemolyze about as fast as we could put them in. Cross matching was becoming difficult, and the prospects for improvements were poor, as each exposure to new antigens could mean more immune responses," recalls project supervisor George Giacoppe. So he searched the Internet...

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