A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    Lets say that somehow all of your bonemarrow was instantly sucked out of your body without killing you outright, how long could you survive without it? Would you near instantly or hold on for a long period of time?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    I think this would be equivalent to severe radiation poisoning, and would thus probably take a similar amount of time. Possibly longer because it's not being compounded by your skin falling off and your stomach digesting itself, but also possibly shorter because it's ALL your bone marrow

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    This is probably the most disturbing thing I have researched for GITP...

    We can get a very crude estmate from the functional lifetime of the red blood cell:

    Quote Originally Posted by From Wikipedia
    Functional lifetime

    The functional lifetime of a red blood cell is about 100120 days, during which time the red blood cells are continually moved by the blood flow push (in arteries), pull (in veins) and a combination of the two as they squeeze through microvessels such as capillaries. They are also recycled in the bone marrow.
    Another search (which I won't duplicate the results of...) suggests that you losing 40% of your blood will kill you, so the crude calculation of that is 40 - 48 days.

    Severe radiation poisoning appears to be 2 days to 2 weeks (as Bohandas says, there's other things killing you there).

    While that seems faster than the blood marrow case, you would will be severely ill by the two-week mark - the body contains about 10 pints of blood, one pint is the amount of a blood donation, two pints or more you start to get serious issues, four pints kills you.

    At a guess you would be (decreasingly) functional for about a week and a half, then start dying in ernest.

    Transfusions may keep you alive, but I'm not sure how well they would work (and they bring risks of their own).

    (Someone with better than first-aider competence could probably give you a better answer)
    Last edited by Manga Shoggoth; 2021-12-04 at 06:48 AM. Reason: Got the names confused. Come on! There were only two of them...
    Warning: This posting may contain wit, wisdom, pathos, irony, satire, sarcasm and puns. And traces of nut.

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    Melayl's Avatar

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    A person would be lucky to survive for a few weeks, to be honest. Not only does bone marrow produce red blood cells, it also produces white blood cells (necessary to fight infections) and platelets (necessary for clotting).

    Between decreasing oxygen carrying capacity, increasing vulnerability to infections, and spontaneous internal bleeding, you wouldn't last long.

    Cancers like aplastic anemia and leukemia damage or reduce bone marrow, but do it slowly. Removing all of it at the same time...
    Bone marrow transplants can fix that, but all of the patient's bone marrow must be destroyed (by radiation treatment) before new bone marrow can be added. Those patients are in complete isolation after radiation to prevent infection, and donation takes place within a week of the last radiation treatment, usually within days. Much longer risks severe complications and death...

    On that note, please register to be a bone marrow donor! It is simple, painless, and fast, and you could save a life (or several)!

    Just Google "bone marrow donation" to find out how to register in your country.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I think this would be equivalent to severe radiation poisoning, and would thus probably take a similar amount of time. Possibly longer because it's not being compounded by your skin falling off and your stomach digesting itself, but also possibly shorter because it's ALL your bone marrow
    Quote Originally Posted by Manga Shoggoth View Post
    This is probably the most disturbing thing I have researched for GITP...

    We can get a very crude estmate from the functional lifetime of the red blood cell:



    Another search (which I won't duplicate the results of...) suggests that you losing 40% of your blood will kill you, so the crude calculation of that is 40 - 48 days.

    Severe radiation poisoning appears to be 2 days to 2 weeks (as Bohandas says, there's other things killing you there).

    While that seems faster than the blood marrow case, you would will be severely ill by the two-week mark - the body contains about 10 pints of blood, one pint is the amount of a blood donation, two pints or more you start to get serious issues, four pints kills you.

    At a guess you would be (decreasingly) functional for about a week and a half, then start dying in ernest.

    Transfusions may keep you alive, but I'm not sure how well they would work (and they bring risks of their own).

    (Someone with better than first-aider competence could probably give you a better answer)
    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    A person would be lucky to survive for a few weeks, to be honest. Not only does bone marrow produce red blood cells, it also produces white blood cells (necessary to fight infections) and platelets (necessary for clotting).

    Between decreasing oxygen carrying capacity, increasing vulnerability to infections, and spontaneous internal bleeding, you wouldn't last long.

    Cancers like aplastic anemia and leukemia damage or reduce bone marrow, but do it slowly. Removing all of it at the same time...
    Bone marrow transplants can fix that, but all of the patient's bone marrow must be destroyed (by radiation treatment) before new bone marrow can be added. Those patients are in complete isolation after radiation to prevent infection, and donation takes place within a week of the last radiation treatment, usually within days. Much longer risks severe complications and death...

    On that note, please register to be a bone marrow donor! It is simple, painless, and fast, and you could save a life (or several)!

    Just Google "bone marrow donation" to find out how to register in your country.
    Thanks all! That sounds suitably terrifying not gonna lie, worse than I had initially thought, I mean I knew it would be bad but woah.

    Also thanks for enlightening me on a new donation process! I think it's always important to donate whatever tissue, organs, or blood we can in life to those who need them. So I appreciate the information!

    For those of you concerned, about this, don't worry. I'm not a crazy man, just a writer who has this particular thing happen several times in his current book.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    Interestingly, this was part of a X-Men story in the mid/late 80s. Wolverine lost his healing factor, and was gradually dying because the admantium kept him from producing red blood cells.
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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Manga Shoggoth View Post
    Another search (which I won't duplicate the results of...) suggests that you losing 40% of your blood will kill you, so the crude calculation of that is 40 - 48 days.
    I think you're looking at the wrong variable - you should be looking at rate of die-off of RBCs.

    Broadly speaking (it's complicated) between 1.73 - 2.59 billion RBCs die off each day. If a pint of blood has 2.4 trillion RBCs, then it'll take between 37 to 55 days to hit that critical 4 pint level. This is not accounting for other effects that RBCs contribute like blood viscosity (which affects blood pressure).

    However as Melayl said, the bone marrow is involved with other more important factors, like platelet and white blood cell production. Platelets have a lifespan of 4-5 days, so in under a week, a simple knock or cut could be fatal (since you essentially have haemophilia now) while white blood cells live between 8-14 days, so after a week, a simple infection could kill you within days.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2021-12-06 at 11:56 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: How long can a human live without bone marrow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    I think you're looking at the wrong variable - you should be looking at rate of die-off of RBCs.

    Broadly speaking (it's complicated) between 1.73 - 2.59 billion RBCs die off each day. If a pint of blood has 2.4 trillion RBCs, then it'll take between 37 to 55 days to hit that critical 4 pint level. This is not accounting for other effects that RBCs contribute like blood viscosity (which affects blood pressure).
    I don't think it makes any difference - remember, it's a crude calculation. When your marrow disappears, you will have a collection of cells that range from "just born" to "about to die". It should be a more or less even distribution since while the marrow is around the creation rate should more-or-less equal the death rate over time. This means that the youngest cell has a full lifetime, and the falloff will be more or less linear.

    It may not be exact, but for a crude calculation it is fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    However as Melayl said, the bone marrow is involved with other more important factors, like platelet and white blood cell production. Platelets have a lifespan of 4-5 days, so in under a week, a simple knock or cut could be fatal (since you essentially have haemophilia now) while white blood cells live between 8-14 days, so after a week, a simple infection could kill you within days.
    Oh, indeed - I'm not saying that other things might not kill you first, but you can get round these for a limited period of time by things such as isolating and being very careful. But once your red cell count goes down far enough it's game over. That's the upper limit.
    Last edited by Manga Shoggoth; 2021-12-07 at 11:49 AM.
    Warning: This posting may contain wit, wisdom, pathos, irony, satire, sarcasm and puns. And traces of nut.

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