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What Type Are You?
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What Type Are You?

Credit: US Navy
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blood_donation_at_Fleet_Week_USA.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. This vital material is essential for life. Blood contains red cells to transport oxygen to tissues, clotting materials to stop bleeding, proteins to fight infections, and provides the means to move needed materials throughout the body. Blood donors provide this needed fluid, but supplies often run short. There is increasing interest in finding new approaches to providing blood.

Why It Matters

  • Blood donations are currently the only way patients can obtain whole blood. Hindrances to donation include a fear of the needle, pre-existing diseases, low hemoglobin (due to low serum iron), travel to certain areas of the world where pesticide spraying is widespread, and a lack of information about how and where to donate. As a result of this, many area blood banks chronically experience shortages of appropriate blood samples.
  • Credit: Tianliu
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blood_Drive_Bus_2008_March_MA.JPG
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Blood banks now use modified buses to provide mobile facilities for blood donations [Figure2]


  • Two major approaches to artificial blood are being developed today. One method uses hemoglobin molecules that are chemically connected to one another. The hemoglobin will attach to oxygen molecules and carry them to cells as normal blood does. The other approach employs an organic compound known as a perfluorocarbon (PFC), composed of only carbon and fluorine atoms. This group of compounds can dissolve about 30% more oxygen than regular blood, but does break down fairly quickly.
  • Newer techniques involve applications of biotechnology to develop red blood cells. The stem cells used are from adult tissue, eliminating a number of ethical issues. However, it is not always possible to obtain the desired blood group.
  • Watch the video at the site below to learn more about blood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRh_dAzXuoU

Explore More

Use the links below to learn more about artificial blood. Then answer the following questions.

  1. List the four main blood types.
  2. When must donated red cells be used?
  3. What are some problems associated with the use of hemoglobin blood substitutes?
  4. What are some problems associated with PFCs?
  5. How are stem cells being used for making artificial blood?


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