(Much) Thicker Than Water
Although it sounds like a clue from "The Case of the Cosmonaut's Cut", CNet News’s Future Tech Blog is passing on a story from Haaretz that Israeli soldiers may be going into battle carrying their own freeze-dried blood in two years.
Here’s hoping that the product fares better than Northfield Labs’ PolyHeme (PolyHeme product page / PolyHeme Class Action Lawsuit page).
UPDATE: (Wednesday, July 26th, 2006) A gentle nudge from the Senior Editor reminds me to 'accentuate the positive' in this development.
Reducing the mass and volume of transfusion blood, while extending its shelf-life holds implecations well beyond the battlefield. Recently, my wife underwent major surgery and was willing and able to participate in the hospital blood bank's 'autologous donation' program in a small way. By donating a single unit of her own blood in June, to be used in her surgery in July, she was able to reduce her overall impact on our local blood supply, be more secure that the blood she got was both correctly matched to her type and healthy, and contribute actively to the process.
The Israeli product, should it prove to be safe and cost-effective (and, in the world of emergency / intensive medicine, cost-effective does not equal inexpensive), would allow patients to donate their own blood over a longer period before planned surgery, spreading out the stress on the patient's system. It would allow emergency medical personnel (or astronauts...) to pack a significant amount of transfusable blood, in a variety of types and factors, over a relatively long period, in the smallest of packs or vehicles. Finally, it might (and here I am going well beyond my biotechnical knowledge base and speculating rampantly) allow blood to be stored (LN2?) and reconstituted perhaps years later.