Synthetic blood could ensure supply

THE trauma case of a Jehovah’s Witness patient whose life was saved by synthetic blood is just a taste of the coming era of safe and plentiful blood supplies, experts say.

Associate Professor Mark Fitzgerald, director of trauma services at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, sourced a haemoglobin-based oxygen carrier from the US to save the woman’s life last year, securing the last 10 units of the product, which is not yet marketed here.

The advantage of the HBOC-201 bovine-derived product (OPK Biotech) is that it’s not only a volume expander but can carry oxygen, he said.

“I’m interested in doing some more research on this,” Professor Fitzgerald said, adding the product could be a boon in rural and remote areas where blood supply was short.

He said it had been trialled during cardiac and orthopaedic surgery but was not yet used widely for patients dying from blood loss.

“I think it