© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Artificial Blood Testing Questioned

By Elana Gordon

Kansas City, MO – A report is raising questions about the safety of artificial blood, including one tested by KU Hospital. A review of human trials found patients given one of five blood substitutes had a 30 percent greater chance of death and a threefold increase in heart attacks. KU Hospital stocked the blood-substitute Polyheme in local ambulances in 2005 and 2006. Trauma Director Michael Moncure says the report raises questions about the safety of blood substitutes, but that it does not look at the specifics of Polyheme (POLY-HEEM).

Moncure: If you look at evidence that we were privy to, there's really nothing to suggest that this could be an additional risk, and nothing but potential benefit in trauma population.

Johnson County Emergency Medical Services Chief Ted McFarlane says when KU Hospital approached them about being in the study, county officials declined to participate over concerns that unconscious trauma patients lacked the ability to give consent.

McFarlane: Some believed that the blood substitute might actually be better for the patients, but it was a non consented thing. Once they were started on the Polyheme, they were continued on Polyheme and the consent was then carried over from the field and into the hospital.

Dr. Moncure of KU Hospital says ambulances only administered the blood substitute in counties that agreed to participate in the study. He also says the KU study did not find an increase in trauma patient deaths, but that there were some more heart attacks cases. Scientists with the National Institutes of Health and advocates with the watchdog group, Public Citizen, issued the recent report and allege that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been aware of the potential harms of human blood substitutes since the year 2000 but has allowed human testing of the products anyway.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Download recent health stories or subscribe to the KCUR Health Podcast

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.