MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Is it possible for a human body to be drained 100% of all blood?

Date: Thu Jan 2 15:08:21 2003
Posted By: Erin Cram, Post doc, Molecular Biology
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 1040673152.An

Your scenario as described would be impossible to achieve in reality.  
There are circumstances where a person could bleed to death from 
minor wounds (e.g. if the person were a hemophiliac).  However, a 
person would die long before 100% of the blood was drained; and once a 
person is dead, the heart stops; and once the heart stops, there would be 
no further bleeding. (Bleeding occurs because of the blood pressure 
maintained by a beating heart. Because of the small and collapsible 
nature of our blood vessels and blood clotting, physical forces such as 
surface tension and viscosity would prevent any further draining, 
especially from any minor wounds).  However, after a person is dead, it is 
possible to actively pump most of the blood out, but only by first quickly 
injecting medication to prevent the blood from clotting, and then replacing 
the blood with another liquid.  Morticians and pathologists will do this and 
replace blood with formaldehyde or another preservative when 
embalming.  As for what a body with 0% blood would look like, the color of 
a living person comes from the oxygen in the blood rather than the blood 
itself.  When a person dies, blood is no longer oxygenated and that is why 
corpses have that pale color associated with death.  A dead person with 
0% blood would probably look no different.
(answered by Henry Hsia, MD my co-worker)

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