Blood Transfusions With Substitutes Prove Beneficial for Individuals With Anemia


A new mathematical model shows that low-cost and safe plasma expanders for transfusion can decrease the overall cost by 10 times, while also lowering the negative aspects of the process.

Individuals with anemia, which is blood with low oxygen levels, can be treated with transfusions of blood substitutes, a new mathematical model of the body's physiological and biochemical processes shows.

“Instead of real blood, we can use a substitute that can lower the costs and eliminate blood transfusion's negative effects,” Weiyu Li, a PhD student in energy resources engineering at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, said in a statement.

Results show that low-cost and safe blood substitutes can decrease the overall cost of blood transfusions by 10 times, while lowering the negative aspects of the process as well, investigators said.

The new model shows that during transfusion, some of the individuals’ blood vessels did not dilate and thickens the blood. Therefore, it was not as easy to deliver oxygen in the blood.

“Our mathematical model identifies natural physiological processes that explain the conclusion of multiple observational studies: People can get the benefit of blood transfusion without using blood,” Daniel Tartakovsky, PhD, a professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford Earth, said in the statement.

“But nothing really comes out of modeling alone; it has to be grounded in observations, investigational studies and experience,” he said.

The model also shows that abstaining from transfusion or transfusing alternative fluids, or plasma expanders, promotes blood vessels dilating more, increasing oxygen delivery.

Plasma expanders consist of high-molecular-weight starch dissolved in normal saline, which has been used in transfusion medication and is proven to be effective.

Transfusions are common procedures for transferring blood to the circulation of individuals with anemia, which helps the red blood cells carry more oxygen. However, the process is costly and intensive, because it must be obtained, stored, delivered, and sanitized.


New model points to solution to global blood shortage. ScienceDaily. News release. October 19, 2021. Accessed on October 19, 2021.

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