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Synthetic Blood Saves Australian Woman’s Life | The Utopianist - Think Bigger
Synthetic Blood Saves Australian Woman’s Life
Written by: Anna Loza
06 May 2011
A viable synthetic blood transfusion may finally be a reality; just ask Tamara Coakley, 33, who brushed with death after a severe car accident.
As a Jehovah’s witness, the Australian woman was unable to receive transfusions of human blood, despite a long list of serious injuries: an almost-severed spinal cord, collapsed lungs, a fractured skull, broken ribs, cheekbone and elbow and a ruptured spleen. Her dangerous condition was only augmented by severe blood loss — doctors did not have many options, but a tireless Dr. Fitzgerald did some pretty heavy lifting to make things happen.
Ten units of the blood were flown in from the U.S. and injected into Coakley after the doctor negotiated with everybody from the manufacturer to border inspection agencies, an ethics committee and the airline carrier. He says that the idea of a synthetic blood transfusion working is “a bit of science fiction” making the whole procedure a medical miracle. The drug maker picked up the tab, another miracle in its own right.
The injection raised Coakley’s levels of hemoglobin, preventing imminent heart failure and anemia; it also supplemented the single liter of blood she had left after the accident. She woke up from a come one week after receiving the transfusion.