The need for blood transfusions among critically ill patients may now be reduced by a new substance. A study showed that patients in intensive care with a lowered need for transfusion were the ones who had received weekly administration of the man-made protein.
Researchers examined the effectiveness of a substance called recombinant human erythropoietin, or rHuEPO, that stimulates the body to produce new red blood cells and is meant to decrease the number of red blood cell transfusions. Erythropoietin, produced in the kidney, stimulates the production of red blood cells.
Study was conducted at 67 centers with 1,305 patients who had been in the ICU for two days and were expected to stay there for at least two more days. Participants were assigned to receive either a placebo or 40,000 units of rHuEPO on day three in the ICU and weekly while in the hospital.
Results show that patients who received rHuEPO were less likely to receive a transfusion. More than 59 percent of patients taking the placebo had transfusions in contrast to 50.6 percent of patients taking rHuEPO. Around 18 percent reduction in total blood units transfused and a greater increase in haemoglobin was found in the rHuEPO administered group. Study also indicated that rHuEPO did not improve survival or clinical outcomes.