What Is Albumin?

Albumin is a water-soluble protein made in the liver and circulated throughout the body by the blood stream. It helps maintain appropriate volume inside blood vessels, as well as adequate blood pressure.

Albumin and other proteins are carried through the blood stream in plasma. For medical use, it is extracted from the plasma of donors, and then pasteurized (heated) to inactivate any disease causing agents. Some patients who refuse blood transfusion therapy would also consider any use of proteins extracted from blood plasma to be unacceptable.

Others may accept the medical use of blood fractions, such as albumin. They do not view such blood fractions as being the same as a transfusion of whole blood, red cells, platelets, or plasma. They may also consider the fact that while a pregnant woman's blood supply remains separate from her baby's, many protein fractions pass freely between them.

It is the responsibility of patients who request bloodless medicine therapies to educate themselves on these issues and be prepared to respectfully explain and document their wishes. It is the responsibility of physicians and other caregivers to encourage their patients to be actively involved in decisions about their own care, and to honor and work within those informed choices.

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