Monday, October 16, 2006

Fake Blood? Orlock says Count me Out.

news you may not know

Count Orlock,

Circa 1922

Gone are the glory days of furtive skulking in the dead of night. In times past, Count Orlock could virtually swagger down dark and desolate streets while sizing up the juicy jugulars of the unsuspecting. Today's nocturnal neighborhoods are not so forgiving. Have you been to Vegas? Add the danger of blindness inflicted by the flash of camera-phones and the life of the modern-day vampire suddenly looks less appealing. And now, in the grandest of insults, they want to use FAKE blood??

It's true.

PolyHeme is a blood substitute being studied for use in emergency treatments. It is a temporary fix, designed for use in trauma cases in which large volumes of blood have been lost and transfusions are not readily available. PolyHeme is a synthetic derivative of hemoglobin, the protein in the red blood cells of humans that transports oxygen. A major advantage of PolyHeme is its compatibility with all blood types, allowing emergency paramedics to carry a single supply of "blood" to treat all patients. Additionally, it has a shelf life of twelve months.

So, what's the rub?

The issue is consent. The patients who require treatment with PolyHeme are unable to give informed consent, due to their being unconscious following a traumatic accident. The Food and Drug Administration is currently being criticized for allowing the developer of this product, Northfield Labs, to treat these trauma patients under the provisions of a consent waiver. Northfield, and other proponents, argue the waiver is necessary to both test and prove a product with enormous promise. Iowa Senator Grassley, however, disagrees and has asked the U.S. Secretary of Health to establish a committee to evaluate the issue.

Count Orlock, meanwhile, was recently seen exiting a designer eyewear shop in London. Sporting a retro-gothic set of super dark sunglasses he is said to be considering taking a day job. A trip to the manicurist may be in order as well.

To read more about PolyHeme, see this discussion at Wikipedia.


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