Most people seem pretty excited over the idea of artificial blood for infinite blood transfusions. Well allow me to present the concept for portable backup organs or P.B.O for short, because you wouldn’t have time to pronounce the whole name during emergencies. This isn’t the same as an organ transplant, as that would require a sterilized environment a donor and a trained surgeon (plus a lot of equipment and assistants). No, this is an on site package containing lab grown organs that can be linked through an IV, very much like an umbilical cord linking a baby to its mother’s organs. Because if you stop and think about it, blood is actually what’s keeping the body alive in the short term. Every organ serves to keep blood in prime condition to in term keep them alive. The P.B.O is advantageous because it keeps the blood “fresh” for much longer than a blood Pack and if the organs include a digestive system can be fed with regular food to keep them (and the patient) alive.

The invention is very expensive and certainly not full proof as there can be complications with blood types or organ rejection (for the sake of the question let’s just assume that this issue has been figured out). There’s no saving a person with a dead brain and a person with any disease could infect the P.B.O making it unusable. That and of course arriving too late or a person bleeding to death.

On the plus side though P.B.Os are lighter and more portable than any modern life support device as its basically a cartridge with the contents of a human torso. Once used P.B.Os don’t necessarily have to be thrown away but can be reused to save another life (with cleaning and replacing the IVs of course). And finally the inclusion of a digestive system would allow them to be fed easily. A person hooked up to it could live relatively normal lives until they heal or receive replacements.

**In what emergencies would this device be used? What kind of ailments would require its use? And if it’s too problematic to work just assume it does **

  • $\begingroup$ A few questions: how long would those PBOs last? Could it be used for non-emergencies? And why are you placing limitations on "blood poisoning"? That excludes one of the most useful applications of this invention: acute liver failure - just hook them up to the PBO instead of going through the whole liver transplant ordeal $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 7:20

3 Answers 3


There are probably a lot of situations an invention like this would be usable, but the most practical application for what you have described would probably be liver dialysis, the ailment that would require this is a barely functioning or non-functioning liver.

Altough the reason dialysis like this is done is because there are not many liver donors, so if an invention like this could be used to grow livers, It would start to make dialysis obsolete for most people with a failing/nonfunctioning liver.

A exception however would be people for which surgery is too risky, this would be the perfect device for them and could possibly save their lives, might prevent them from having to go to the hospital constantly if they or a relative/family member can use the device, and they wouldn't need any transplant surgery. Very specific I know, but I think it would be perfect use case.

Although from your description of the device I think it would be useful in any situation that would require a new or backup organ or the functionality of one. It also sounds very useful for allowing the creation of more realistic scenarios for training doctors. I imagine being able to train with an actual system of working organs would be beneficial.

I have to admit i am not a medical expert, but i hope you find some of this useful.

  • $\begingroup$ It’s ok I have absolutely no training in the subject either. Well... I do know CPR. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ To replace hemodialysis (kidney) too - this is a LONG process: 4 hours per session, 3 sessions per week (at least). It would greatly improve quality of life for people waiting for a kidney transplant, since it frees up those 12 hours. And this could very well save a person with cystic fibrosis if you can use it on a permanent basis $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 9:32

Every organ serves to keep blood in prime condition to in term keep them alive

Not exactly, or rather: this would often require more than a simple "organ".

Heart: you cannot connect it with an IV -- you need its mechanical action. Which is provided more easily by a pump.

Liver and kidneys: these would work. Place them in a nutrient bath and connect through IV, and you have a dialysis setup going in case of liver or kidney failure, for example when awaiting transplant. In some cases of acute failure (e.g. consumption of some toxic mushrooms) this could be a lifesaver.

Pancreas: this also would work. Very useful in case of pancreas malfunction (e.g. diabetes). Insulin injection would still be simpler and cheaper, though.

Spleen: not worth bothering.

Various glands: these also would work. In some cases - thymus, etc. - they're probably not worth bothering. In other cases, hormone injections might be an easier alternative.

Cholecyst: useless in our scenario, and has nothing to do with blood.

Lungs: IV is not enough, you'd need a large arterial and venous access and the organs would need mechanical support (possibly endoventilation: pump them at a slight overpressure, then inject over-oxygenated, humidified air using turbulent jets in the bronchi. The lungs would probably suffer damage after a few hours or days. Otherwise, nutrient bath and a flexible enclosure that can be contracted and expanded, forcing the lungs to inhale and exhale. More complicated and fragile but more physiological. Or do away with the lung structure altogether: dissect the lungs opening them up, and expose a larger surface to a current of humidified, over-oxygenated air. A sort of surgical blóðugr örn that brings life instead of death.

Uterus: useless for the short term, and actually too complicated, would need to be implanted in some large organism, but could help with artificial pregnancy when the natural organ can't be used for any of several possible reasons. There are several instances in literature (from gengineered cows used as artificial wombs - something by Peter F. Hamilton, either Misspent Youth or the Commonwealth saga - to Tleilaxu axlotl tanks in Frank Herbert's Dune).

Stomach: probably useless and, anyway, not connectable with an IV.

Intestine: probably useless, not connectable with an IV, and nutrient substances can be more easily synthesized chemically.

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah I figured a fully functioning heart and lungs might be difficult to attach. I’d either need a better IV more like an umbilical cord or the P.B.O needs to be linked to the torso somehow. Also who puts a uterus into an emergency pack of organs?! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 9:30

In just about any disaster scenario where surgery might not be immediately available these organs would be useful.

For starters all PBO packs have blood type O negative as basic blood type. This means that the packs can transfuse blood to any host. The problem is that the PBO would get sick if it received any other blood than O negative. For this reason the O negative blood supply is stored seperately from the rest of the PBO. Once a connection is made with the host, the PBO will sample the blood. This allows it to activate the organs designed for that blood type and start producing it.

One of the great advantages of such P.B.O.'s is that they are expendable. As long as the host survives it does not matter if the P.B.O. selfdestructs. So if the host has blood poisoning the P.B.O. could make a direct connection to the host and pull the blood through a filtration system, like a liver+kidney part designed to agressively filter the blood and likely die from the poison afterwards.

Another feature I would add is some tentacles to the PBO. These tentacles are designed to sniff out wounds and cover them to limit bloodloss and increase survival. Such tentacles would inject masses of fagocites and other immune cells into the area and try to clear dirt and debris. Naturally some form of detatching procedure should be present to make it easier for a medical professional to treat the wound. A few dedicated tentacles would seek the femoral artery and brachial artery to make the connection to the host and deliver blood.

With all organs present, including the potential for a digestive tract and "waste processing", such a PBO could be a perfect temporary lifesaver. The initial O negative infusion and bloodloss tentacles keep the user alive until proper blood can be made. Should the host be unable to feed itself then the PBO can digest and process waste instead until the host can be treated. In the event of the PBO self-destructing in order to save the host you have at least bought time for the host, especially if another PBO is available for use to keep the host alive afterwards.

  • $\begingroup$ Actually scientists believe they have found a reliable way to transform donor blood into the universal type needed for safe, emergency blood transfusions. The discovery is enzymes from gut bacteria that can efficiently turn type-A human blood into type-O. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that O negative blood can go into anyone, but a person with O negative cannot accept other blood. If the PBO is O negative it could experience problems, so a grace period where it alters itself would be necessary. Changing the entire bloodsupply might work but it depends on how fast this works and if you can keep up with the host's blood production. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 10:07

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