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Ape Blood

August 21, 2007

A listener asks: Could we use ape blood in a transfusion?


Could you get blood from an ape? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Apes and humans have similar DNA, so listener Alexandra Roman of Gainesville, Florida, asked whether humans could use ape blood in a transfusion. We turned to physiologist John Stallone of Texas A&M. He says the proteins that line ape and human blood cells are too different.

JOHN STALLONE (Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine):
The body would view it as any toxin or poison that was administered to the body or infected the body, so it would trigger immune reactions that would be quite serious and probably, if it were enough blood, it would be lethal.

He says this is the same thing that happens when people get human blood of the wrong type, only this would be more serious. If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-why-isit. If we use it on the air, you’ll win a Science Update mug. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.