An Australian woman's life has been saved using a radical synthetic blood substitute from the U.S. made from cow plasma, the Herald Sun reported Thursday.
In a world first, doctors at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, brought 33-year-old Tamara Coakley back from the brink of death after a car crash left her with severe blood loss and close to heart failure.
Her spinal cord was almost severed, her lungs collapsed, her skull was fractured, several ribs were broken, as were her cheekbone and an elbow, and her spleen was ruptured, The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph reported.
She was barely alive when she arrived at the hospital.
"I had two pints of blood left in my body," she said.
In a last-ditch effort to save Coakley's life, 10 units of the hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier HBOC201 were flown in from the U.S.
The synthetic contains a molecule derived from cow plasma and restored her levels of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the tissues.
Associate Professor Mark Fitzgerald said it marked an important step in the development of a viable blood alternative to address worldwide blood supply shortages.
Unlike donor blood, it does not require crossmatching and can be stored without refrigeration for up to three years.
"It's a bit of science fiction," Fitzgerald said.
As a Jehovah's Witness, Coakley was unable to have blood transfusions but was allowed blood substitutes.
Coakley, who was in an induced coma during the crucial medical procedure, knows how close she came to death.
"They did everything they could, I am so grateful."