Since the early 1990s, when the fears of contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C through donated blood were so widespread, many companies began searching for a safe alternative to donated blood. Currently, PolyHeme-an experimental blood substitute-is being evaluated for use in trauma situations for the treatment of acute blood loss.
PolyHeme developed by Northfield Laboratories, Inc. uses hemoglobin that researchers separate, filter and chemically modify. After indergoing modifications, the "naked", or stripped, hemoglobin cell can be transfused into any individual, regardless of his or her blood type. PolyHeme lasts in the body only 72 hours, but could serve as a temporary solution for critically injured patients who do not have immediate access to stored blood, or who refuse to receive standard blood transfusions. PolyHemem has a shelf life of approximately 100 days, which is more than half the shelf life of donated blood.
Some of the benefits of PolyHeme illustrate the advantages of using a blood substitue over transfused blood. If used during elective surgery, PolyHeme is expected to increase transfusion safety for both patients and health care professionals. Also, PolyHeme is universally compatible, which means that no blood typing is required prior to its use and it can be used immediately. The immediate availability and universal compatibility of PolyHeme is expected to help avoid the delay and opportunities for error associated with blood typing in an emergency situation.
The development of PolyHeme presents a new option to people who prefer not to receive blood transfusions. Also, Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusios, may accept "fractions of any of the primary components" of blood, opening the door to the use of hemoglobin based blood substitutes like PolyHeme. Blood substitutes, like PolyHeme, may help save lives that are now being lost due to massive blood loss in trauma or surgery.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved clinical trials for PolyHeme, to be used in cases of "urgent blood loss when blood is not immediately available."
*Just as other therapuetic products that are derived from whole blood or primary components of whole blood, PolyHeme is a matter of personal choice for those who are choosing not to receive blood because of religious convictions. The information provided in this "TYK" forum should be helpful for individuals to make an "informed decision" regarding their treatment options. Please discuss procedures, risk factors and treatment options with your physician so that as an informed patient, each person can consider how they want to be treated in accord with their religious convictions.
This site is a medical healthcare website and is not a place to discuss religious issues or the pros and cons for reasons why a person would or would not avoid blood for religious reasons.
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