Hospitals to Start Testing Synthetic Blood

Hospitals to Start Testing Synthetic Blood

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Ed Yeates ReportingUnder a special waiver from the Food and Drug Administration, Utah's two major trauma hospitals are about to test a new synthetic blood product on critically injured patients.

Who most likely will be the first to give the new transfusions? First reponders - those trauma teams that arrive at the scene of the accident - these are the ones who will give the synthetic blood product to patients as they're being transported to the hospital.

Since there isn't enough time to transport real whole blood to the scene of an accident for a transfusion, the treatment for now has been simple, but often ineffective.

Stephen Morris, M.D, University of Utah Medical Center: "When a patient is bleeding to death we are limited to just giving them salt water, saline."

But this synthetic blood product called Polyheme can be carried in ambulances, rescue units, emergency helicopters like Air Med or Life Flight and given immediately on location to anyone, regardless of the victim's blood type.

Stephen Morris, M.D.: "Polyheme is actually a solution of hemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrying part of our blood."

It can now carry oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, even though your own blood is dwindling.

The FDA wants to know if in all these emergency situations Polyheme will in fact increase your chances of survival. So a national clinical trial is proposed involving 20 medical centers, including LDS and the University of Utah hospitals and emergency trauma teams in Salt Lake County, Sandy and West Valley.

This is a most unusual study because in most cases the patients will be in no condition to say yea or nay to the study. If you don't want to participate in this study, get a bracelets that says, "I decline to participate in the Northfield Polyheme Study. You put it on your wrist or hang it in your vehicle. If emergency responders see the bracelet they will not administer the Polyheme.

Keep in mind, though, that so far, during phase one and two clinical trials, the data on this stuff looks extremely promising.

Van Summers, West Valley City Fire Chief: "A synthetic blood product is something we've been waiting for for years to show up on the scene."

University hospital has scheduled two community meetings to elicit public comment on the trial and answer any questions about it:

  1. June 21, 4:30-6 p.m., Sandy Library, 10100 South 1300 East
  2. June 29, 6:30-8 p.m., West Valley Family Fitness Center, 5415 West 3100 South.

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