Every year, thousands of accident and trauma victims will bleed to death on the way to the hospital, but a new blood substitute called Polyheme could end up in ambulances to offer a solution before the patient gets to the emergency room. Polyheme is a blood product that includes red blood cells that have been extracted from human blood.
"Because it has hemoglobin in it, it allows hemoglobin to carry oxygen, just like your own blood does," says David Hoyt M.D. and a trauma surgeon at the University of California, San Diego.
So far, in a study of two hundred patients, seventy-five percent who received Polyheme survived at least thirty days, compared to just thirty-five percent of patients who didn't get it. Since Polyheme is a blood product that's purified to such a simple form, there is no need to worry about blood types. It's universal so it works for everybody, and while regular blood has a shelf life of 42 days, Polyheme lasts up to 12 months. So, experts are hoping that someday if and when it becomes widely available, Polyheme could save about ten thousand lives every year.