Seeing red: in search of synthetic blood

AS DIRECTOR of Trauma Services at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Associate Professor Mark Fitzgerald is used to working long hours.But when presented with a young woman – a Jehovah’s Witness – who had experienced severe blood loss after a car accident last year, he spent many of those long hours on the phone organising treatment instead of giving it.

The 32-year-old woman arrived at the Alfred with a heart rate of 120/min and a blood pressure of 62/26 mmHg. Her oxygen saturation level was 79% on 100%  inspired oxygen.1

For two days Professor Fitzgerald and his team tried to improve her situation, without much success.

What she needed was a blood transfusion.

With human blood out of the question due to her religious beliefs, Professor Fitzgerald and his team turned to a synthetic blood product – one still in development – to increase the delivery of oxygen to her tissues. 

“It took