MAY 20, 2017 11:09 AM PDT

Why You Can't Get a Transfusion with Artificial Blood

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

According to the American Red Cross, nearly 21 million blood components are transfused every year in the U.S. They also estimate that someone is in need of a blood transfusion every 2 seconds. With such a high demand for blood, there's significant shortage of this precious liquid despite many donors and increasing blood drive efforts.

Lab-grown blood could be the answer to the blood shortage crisis. Indeed, making blood in the lab is not a new concept, and researchers have found success in transforming stem cells into red blood cells. But laboratory methods to make blood come nowhere near the body's efficiency at making blood. Stem cells are good for no more than 50,000 red blood cells before it dies. For reference, a bag of blood contains about one trillion red blood cells. Thus, we're still far away from using lab-grown blood to alleviate the shortage.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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