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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    It's a relatively common trope that transufing the blood of an alien, or a super solider, or the like into a normal human being can cause certain effects. Sometimes it turns you into a monster, other times it gives you their powers, or a variation on their powers, and so on and so forth.

    Very rarely, however, are things like blood types brought up, and that's an interesting thing.

    In real life, under normal circumstances, if you put rhesus positive blood in a rhesus negative person's veins, or put A,B, or AB blood in the veins of someone who doesn't naturally have those antigens, the persons immune cells will attack and destroy the foreign blood which can cause effects as minor as getting a very bad feeling about the near future to as serious as dying with a lot of nasty possible symptoms in the middle, depending on how much blood was transfused, how close attention doctors are paying towards you, and how fast you get treated when they notice bad stuff happening.

    So, for example: Say person A has A- type blood, and he wants the perfect body and eternal youth that comes with Captain America's super-soldier serum(they left the eternal youth part out of the movies) and transfuses some of that blood into him

    If he, like in most depictions, just siphons out a transfusion pack's worth of blood and runs it straight into his veins without testing it, he has a 12.9% chance of it being a compatible match and otherwise is likely to screw him up royally.

    Though... I have to wonder...

    It doesn't always have to be a full transfusion of blood with these things though.

    Like, most of my experience with this trope comes from Marvel Comics: With a Super Soldier Serum, the reason you can get it from blood transfusions is becuase the serum is partially viral and propagates itself through the cells of the subject. With The Hulk, it's not Banner's blood, it's his specifical form of Gamma Radiation in his body reacting to certain properties of the body of the human subject.

    So... You don't really need a full transfusion, in those cases. You just need a little bit.

    So, if you want to minimize the risks of incompatible blood, would say... Injecting only a small vial, like say the amount they pull out for a blood test have a lower risk of, or less severe, complications?
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Probably unanswerable. I mean, we are talking about aliens, magical monster and supers who are likely even less compatible than the above. Additionally, if you're dealing with someone with radioactive type powers at what point are you getting a strong enough dose of millirems to give you terminal cancer?

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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Assuming the superpower agent is self-propagating through the body (so that even a low amount is enough) it kind of depends on what it actually is and how it works. If you want to lower the risk, you should try to extract whatever is important from the blood the same way we now do blood plasma transfusions for example with the covid19 antibodies.

    If those are some living cells of the donor, you will be very likely to see the immune system on full alert and trying to destroy the intruders unless the recipient takes appropriate immunosuppressants. Realistically speaking those donor cells might behave like cancer with all its dangers to the new host.

    If it is about some chemical that activates something in the recipient, then the recipient get the expected results as long as the active substance works in predictable ways and the original super was not just super lucky to come out alive from the contact with whatever chemical X.


    Still, one has to remember that many poisons are deadly even in very small doses, so injecting any amount of untested substances into oneself is a bad idea. Less dangerous than going by the galon, but you cannot be more dead than dead, so yeah. Take for example some alien toxins. Human kidneys might not even be able to filter them out and they will just circulate in the body wrecking it up gradually.
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    One of the Marvel comics in the 90s did an interesting take where they made all superheroes work off mutations (but are mutates), and fatal damage was often a trigger. So the superhero serum doesn't make you a superhero, it just hurts you bad enough your superpowers pop up.

    On topic: Most super hero serums give you super not get ill powers, so I imagine any dose big enough to kill you will make you immune to being killed by it.
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    I'm sure that some kids have done the blood brother thing from movies (two kids pricking a finger and then touching to let the blood intermingle) and we didn't hear about how potentially fatal it was, so extremely tiny amounts of blood in unimportant areas aren't going to be life threatening. Assuming that if it's infused somewhere more central where a clot could cut off something more important you'd be looking at trouble. No idea what would be considered a "safe" amount and I doubt anybody did any research on that, for obvious reasons. Plus, as was mentioned upthread, if you get your hands on some of Steve Roger's blood you have no reason not to try isolating out the super serum first. (Unless you were in a desperate situation where you needed super powers right now. In which case, just narratively speaking, desperation superpowers tend to have nasty drawbacks. Your odds of a mismatch would be appreciably higher than what pure chance would assume.)

    If you're asking how magical or alien effects would interact with human biology, the latter answer is "we haven't the foggiest clue" while the former is "it's magic, it works by its own rules".

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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    The main issue with blood transfusions is the same as organ donation; if the blood coming in is different enough to your own physiology, your body's antibodies will think "oh dear, infection!!!" and start a bloody (sorrynotsorry) war. With any antibodies in the donated blood doing the same. Blood types are basically a categorisation system for which immune systems are compatible with which others (sort of).

    From that we can safely assume anything that could drastically change your body could risk a fatal immune response without anti-rejection drugs (i.e. shutting down your immune system, but not so much you become fatally immune deficient).

    That said, it's known that some blood can be better than others, so there are potential benefits from stealing blood and jamming it into your own system. Of course, there are better ways to do that (vaccines, synthetic blood, just eating stuff).
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Okay, let's siimply it a bit.

    a standard sized transfusion is a pint, more or less.

    There are 96 teaspoons in a pint.

    Captain America is human. A physiologically and genetically perfect human, but human in every way that counts up to and including his blood.

    So, if a hypothetical individual were to transfuse one teaspoon of Cap's blood into themselves in hopes of getting the Serum, would that have a 1/96th chance of death or permanent damage from incompatible blood?

    Or does it not work like that, becuase I cannot find any research on this.
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Rephrasing slightly to make sure we're on the same page: Should we just assume that you're a mad scientist who is injecting people with a teaspoon worth of incompatible blood just to see what's happening, and ignoring comic physics/comic logic as elements here? Because first and most importantly, that sort of experiment would have risk of harm with no reasonable chance of benefit, would not get past any review boards, and that's why nobody has done any real research on the topic.

    Assuming you did it for S&G? My guess as someone with no medical training is that the direct effect would make you feel like crap, but wouldn't be enough to out and out kill you. That said, you're also causing inflammation and probably clotting directly within your bloodstream. I wouldn't begin to know the chances of that cutting off circulation to somewhere vital (and again, it's not the sort of research someone is likely to get past a review board to find out), but that would obviously be very bad if it did happen.

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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Okay, let's simplify it a bit.

    a standard sized transfusion is a pint, more or less.

    There are 96 teaspoons in a pint.

    Captain America is human. A physiologically and genetically perfect human, but human in every way that counts up to and including his blood.

    So, if a hypothetical individual were to transfuse one teaspoon of Cap's blood into themselves in hopes of getting the Serum, would that have a 1/96th chance of death or permanent damage from incompatible blood?

    Or does it not work like that, because I cannot find any research on this.
    Depends on the blood types and Rh groups involved. Mixing O+ and AB- gets serious very quickly. Further than that depends on the general health of the recipient.

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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Rephrasing slightly to make sure we're on the same page: Should we just assume that you're a mad scientist who is injecting people with a teaspoon worth of incompatible blood just to see what's happening, and ignoring comic physics/comic logic as elements here? Because first and most importantly, that sort of experiment would have risk of harm with no reasonable chance of benefit, would not get past any review boards, and that's why nobody has done any real research on the topic.

    Assuming you did it for S&G? My guess as someone with no medical training is that the direct effect would make you feel like crap, but wouldn't be enough to out and out kill you. That said, you're also causing inflammation and probably clotting directly within your bloodstream. I wouldn't begin to know the chances of that cutting off circulation to somewhere vital (and again, it's not the sort of research someone is likely to get past a review board to find out), but that would obviously be very bad if it did happen.
    Honestly, I'm going around things the wrong way, I should be more direct.

    Take Captain America: The Serum propagates in his system and, canonically, injecting his blood into someone gives them the same powers.

    You're more likely to turn into a Hulk from the blood of an existing Hulk than from direct exposure of Gamma Rays(direct Gama Rays, you need a specific gene, but everyone whose been transfused with Banner's blood has gained some variation on his powers.)

    (Granted, Immortal She-Hulk implies that it doesn't so much give you powers as kill you and bring you back to life with powers, so that might not be a matter of biology.)

    Moving to the Distinguished competition, in ages long past it was established that Superman's blood adapted to all four blood types(somehow) and temporarily gave you powers similar to his own

    And so on and so forth.

    What I am trying to do, for my own amusement: If you wanted to give these powers to a large number of people by transfusing them with superhuman blood(from humans or human-compatible non-humans) but you can't just put anyone's blood in anyone else.

    Now, the obvious solution is to just test the blood, but obviously, if the blood isn't compatible you can't use it normally.

    So now I'm thinking: If you can't filter the stuff out of the blood, are there ways to minimize the risk?

    Obviously having doctors on hand to treat the symptoms immediately makes a big difference, but...

    In all of these cases, it's not the blood itself, but some substance or energy in the blood: Drugs, radioactive particles, the mutant or alien's natural hormones(though, those sometimes can be separated out: Mutant Growth Hormone is a street drug in the Marvel universe and it is exactly what it sounds like.)

    So like, if I can't get the Serum or the Hulk's Gamma or whoever's hormones out of the blood in a usable form... You really only need a little bit of the stuff and then it'll propagate.

    so... Will injecting a fraction of the normal amount of a transfusion reduce the risks/symptoms of a bad transfusion?

    Like, if I have B+ superhuman blood, and the substance that gives the powers propagates itself in the body of the host, I can obviously put it in a B positive person and then once it's taken effect keep taking that person's blood and putting it in more people who can take B+blood, but that means that my hypothetical army of superhumans consists entirely of people with B+ or AB+ blood.

    But, if I use a reduced amount, a teaspoon instead of a pint, with medical attention on hand to start treatment As Soon as Symptoms start, is transfusion of that B+blood into someone who is 0- and then using their universal donor blood to give the substance to people of other blood types viable, or is it just as likely to end with a dead or seriously injured test subject as a full pint?
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Well, the thing about mixing blood types is that the reactions tend to completely destroy the foreign cells, which presumably includes the Super Stuff(tm) that youre after. A quick google suggests that there are two major factors that play into the danger of mixing blood types.

    The first one is that when blood cells break down, they dont just vanish, they leave behind substances that cause all sorts of nastiness like rampant blood clotting or kidney failure. This is understandably bad because you need functioning kidneys and your blood to be moving.

    The second one is that you need a blood transfusion for something and the blood you got is broken, so you still need a bunch of blood.

    So you could potentially use a small sample without killing the person, but i think that the blood incompatibility would ruin the superpowers.
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    When you inject super soldier blood into another person, their immune system might fight it (as you say), but it's SUPER SOLDIER BLOOD, so it fights back, and wins. Plain and simple. Let's just lampshade this trope and get on with our lives
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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    In the stories I read in the 1960s, they would usually handwave it away by saying, "That's my blood type. Use me."

    Or sometimes, "I have type O -- I'm a universal donor."

    It's probably safer than using radiation to get super-powers.

    Like elves, FTL drive, disguises that always work, Godzilla, absurd coincidence, and a thousand other literary tropes, it requires a willing suspension of disbelief.

    You can probably ruin almost any story if you work at it. The straightforward solution is to not work at it.

    Also, according to the historical documents, attempts to duplicate Captain America's Super Soldier serum usually failed, and when they succeeded, it often turned out very badly.

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    Default Re: Sci-Fi/Superhero Blood Transfusions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Also, according to the historical documents, attempts to duplicate Captain America's Super Soldier serum usually failed, and when they succeeded, it often turned out very badly.
    Which is why you go with the blood transfusion. That's usually much more successful.

    When it works, it works without qualms.

    When Isaiah Bradley's blood was given to his Grandson Eli, Eli got better super soldier powers than his grandfather did(implicitly becuase Isaiah's imperfect serum combined with or reacted to traces of MGH in Eli's blood.)

    It's difficult to extract the serum from the blood and recreate it from samples in blood... But it's known that the serum replicates itself within the cells of the host and propagates through the body.

    (The serum isn't so much a literal serum as it is multiple serums, viruses, other drugs, and at lest one kind of radiation that combine within the subject's body to form some kind of miracle substance)

    So, putting some of his blood in you results in the serum building up in your system until it reaches therapeutic levels.

    Likewise: everyone who has been transfused with Bruce Banner's blood has developed Hulk Powers, compared to how the vast majority of people will die from direct gamma exposure. (Anyone can get it from blood but most people need a special gene)

    And so on. That's a trope in comics and material derived from comics.

    So, mostly, I'm just trying to figure logistics.

    Is there science that exists that talks about whether the risks of complications or permanent damage get lower if you use less blood?
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