Are Blood Substitutes Currently Available in the United States?
The simple answer is no. The term 'blood substitute' has been applied to products which have the property of transporting oxygen which is a major function of blood. Patients who refuse blood transfusions have an intense interest in this subject as any product which could serve as even a partial replacement for transfusions could be potentially very useful in their care.
Products that transport oxygen essentially fall into two categories:
- Synthetic Products Containing No Blood Products A product made without any blood product that would transport oxygen would be of great interest to the bloodless medicine patient. Products of this nature are being developed and tested. To this point, none of these products have been approved for use in the United States.
- Hemoglobin Based Oxygen Carriers. These products are genetically engineered using hemoglobin obtained from either bovine or human blood. Products of this nature are being developed and tested. Hemoglobin is a fraction obtained from red blood cells. Patients who are Jehovah's Witnesses may individually decide whether or not to allow the use of a product containing hemoglobin. To this point, none of these products have been approved for use in the United States.
Updates on products such as these may be obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.