Insight on the News
● Fluosol-DA, an oxygen-carrying blood substitute made from chemicals, failed to pass medical tests in the United States, and experimentation with the fluid on humans has been stopped by its manufacturer. For almost five years, Alpha Therapeutic Corporation, the U.S. producer of the “synthetic blood,” Fluosol-DA 20%, had been working with selected hospitals in the United States and Canada on clinical trials of its use. More than 120 patients were studied. Reports indicate that Fluosol was not as valuable a stand-in for blood as had been hoped for and that other readily available solutions were just as effective as Fluosol. The Chicago Tribune reported that one hospital used for the research gave two reasons for Fluosol’s failure. “It didn’t carry enough oxygen to vital organs,” said the article, “and it didn’t stay in a person’s system long enough to keep him alive until natural production replenished red blood cells.”
The Fluosol study did highlight, though, that surgeons use blood too freely and, according to the Tribune, “that it is possible to operate on someone who is quite anemic without blood transfusions.” Dr. Bruce Friedman, a director at the University of Michigan hospitals, said: “My guesstimate is that 25 percent to 33 percent of the blood used in this country isn’t needed.” Although testing on humans has ceased, it appears that research to improve fluorocarbon “artificial blood” will continue.
● A similar blood substitute is being developed by Dr. Henry A. Sloviter at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. This “artificial blood” is a chemical compound treated with ultrahigh-frequency sound waves and then coated with egg-derived lecithin. It has been tested only on animals so far, but no harmful effects were seen even when large amounts of the milky-white fluid were infused. The Almanac, published by the university, notes that it has these advantages over natural blood: “Appears to be safe without regard to blood type; does not require refrigeration; and eliminates the risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis and malaria in transfusions.” It will not be ready for general use for at least three years.
● Research continues on another continent. “Australian scientists have developed a blood substitute which they say is better for most uses than human whole blood and plasma,” claims The Bulletin, an Australian financial magazine. Named CH (casein hydrolysate), it is a protein and can be made from milk or soybeans. Dr. Louis Hissink, one of the developers of CH, “believes that it is dangerous to introduce blood from another person into a patient,” continues the article, “not only for the chance of bringing disease but also because of immune reactions set up.” Hissink says: “At last, it is becoming clear to people that blood (from donors) is not such a great thing after all.” CH has yet to gain Australia’s state health department approval.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been interested in this type of research. While the Witnesses may allow nonblood fluids to be used for transfusion purposes, they will not compromise their religious beliefs—even when faced with danger—to allow for a blood transfusion. At all times these Christians hold firm to the Biblical injunction: “Keep abstaining from . . . blood.”—Acts 15:29.
● Alcohol abuse has affected even the young and the elderly. A survey conducted for the Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse of 27,414 New York State students aged 12 to 18 found that 10 percent got drunk at least once a week. On the other end of the age scale, the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality states that alcohol abuse “is a significant problem among older people with an expected incidence of 10% to 15%—the prevalence being higher among those who are institutionalized.” Interestingly, one evidence of mankind’s being “in the last days” is that people are “without self-control.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3) And the abuse of alcohol is but one indication of lack of self-control.