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Medicine United Kingdom Technology

Human Blood Substitute Could Help Meet Donor Blood Shortfall 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the blood-2.0 dept.
Zothecula (1870348) writes According to the World Health Organization, over 107 million blood donations are collected around the globe every year, most of which goes on to help save lives. However, while the need for blood is global, much of that which is donated is not accessible to many who need it, such as those in developing countries. And of the blood donated in industrialized countries, the amount often falls short of requirements. To help address this imbalance, scientists at the University of Essex are developing an artificial blood substitute. It would be able to be stored at room temperatures for up to two years, which would allow it to be distributed worldwide without the need for refrigeration and make it immediately accessible at the site of natural disasters.
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Human Blood Substitute Could Help Meet Donor Blood Shortfall

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  • Religious Objections (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:54PM (#47218571)

    I know some people reject blood transfusions based on religious beliefs - if any of those are here, would you have an objection to artificial blood?

  • by JMJimmy (2036122) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @09:01PM (#47218629)

    And develop better screening tests - they rejected me and told me never to donate again because I have a protein in my blood that triggers a false positive on the cheap HIV test. A proper, more expensive, test works just fine though.

    That was a fun letter to get... starts off saying (paraphrasing) "Thank you for your donation, unfortunately your blood tested positive for HIV and cannot be accepted"... at this point most sane people might start freaking out and stop reading. When you do read on it explains it but I wonder how many people started calling people or crying before reading on.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @10:23PM (#47219057) Homepage Journal
    Jehovah's Witnesses readily accept expanders [jw.org] not made from human blood. I used to associate with Jehovah's Witnesses but stopped about a year ago after discovering contradictions in the denomination's other doctrines. My own personal interpretation of "the life is in the blood" (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11, 17:14, Acts 15:29) means I'd reject red and white blood cells, but platelets and plasma are acceptable in a pinch because those aren't living cells.
  • You need to read that book.

    Taking money for blood might have the opposite effect on the supply. In the book from the title, Swiss were asked if their community would be willing to host a nuclear waste storage facility for the good of the country. Many Swiss were on board with it--for the good of their country. A subset of Swiss from the same community were asked if they'd store the waste for $. Those Swiss said NO WAY. The good of their country was far more motivating for the Swiss than $.

    And take me for example. $5 is in no way compensation for the enduring the needle stick and the time involved. I doubt $20 would motivate me. Maybe not even $100. However, I've donated 2 gallons or more. I do it because of this thought: one small needle stick for me, and a bit of time, and maybe someone gets to live.

    And I'm the least-risk group of donors, selected partly by my lack of $ motivation. I don't need money for drugs because I don't take them. D'you really want to give drug addicts motive to donate blood to get money? Sometimes there isn't time for blood to be exhaustively screened before use.

    Also, recent experience shows that the most powerful motivator for blood donation is solidarity. Blood donation went through the roof after 9/11 and other disasters. They literally couldn't stick people with needles and drain 'em fast enough.

    I really think that if we want more blood supply, we need to beat the solidarity drum, and make it really convenient for people to donate.

    Best,

    --PeterM

  • by QQBoss (2527196) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:52PM (#47219457)

    All donors ARE tested for HIV (at least in USA, Canada, and China), but the test is post-donation and not pre-donation. Donated blood is tested for far more than just HIV, as well, and failing that post-donation test can result in a temporary or permanent ban from future donations. Prescreening of donors reduces the cost of testing relative to acceptable donations, which is a useful tool for keeping the cost of the existing donor supply lower than it would be otherwise. The American Red Cross revisits this policy about every 5 years, IIRC, and goes through the math of where the percentage breakpoints are for breakeven results- when any population crosses that line the wrong way, a new question goes on the prescreening survey. Homosexually active men are no more discriminated against than people who got tattoos or ear piercings within a certain time period, or who lived in certain countries (don't be from Cameroon or Nigeria, for example). [ncsucr.org] Want to change that? Try changing the incidence of disease in the indentifiable community below that break point, because manipulating only the math doesn't turn out well in any scenario.

    Giving a blood test for all the possible BBPs (blood borne pathogens) and other issues prior to donating is not cheap if the number of donors goes up by any significant amount of people who wouldn't qualify, so a prescreening survey is going to remain the most cost effective way of dealing with these issues and keeping the number of people who would dilute the quality of the blood supply low.

    If you don't qualify to pass the written prescreening test, and you still want to donate blood, at least in the USA you can do that. There is a box you can check to indicate that you want your blood disposed of after donation. This is most commonly used by drug users and homosexuals who are donating in the presence of family, co-workers, or friends who the donor feels are not aware of their situation. It wastes staff time and some property (collection bags, etc...), but allows an individual to maintain their privacy for a lower cost than a prescreening blood test would cost.

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