FDA Issues Warning Over Young Blood Transfusions

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against treatments or procedures that involve transfusions of plasma from young donors. Injecting plasma from young blood donors is being marketed as a way to treat a variety of age-related diseases. The FDA says that the treatments are unproven and carry considerable risks.

Plasma, the liquid light-colored portion of blood, contains proteins to help the blood clot. Transfusions of plasma have long been used as a treatment for certain types of health issues, but those circumstances have been approved by the FDA. The new treatment method of injecting plasma from young donors into older patients to slow or reverse age related illnesses has not gone through the extensive testing that the FDA normally requires in order to confirm a therapeutic benefit and/or to ensure safety. Therefore, the FDA is warning against them.

Clinics offering young blood transfusions have emerged in major cities nationwide. One of the most successful, Ambrosia, has locations in five states across the U.S. The company advertises blood plasma from donors between the ages of 16 and 25, charging $8,000 for one liter or $12,000 for two liters. It claims that the patients are given the plasma over just one to two days.

Ambrosia’s founder, Stanford Medical School graduate Jesse Karmazin, did not put his treatment method through the FDA’s approval process before offering the service to consumers. He claims that his treatment can fix everything from Alzheimer’s to high cholesterol levels. It is important to note that Karmazin cannot legally practice medicine in any state and is explicitly prohibited from practicing medicine in Massachusetts.

Statements like Karmazin’s are alarming to the FDA. The FDA statement noted plasma infusions carry risks including allergic reactions, circulatory overload, lung injury, and infectious disease transmission. Using the unapproved treatments could also discourage patients suffering from serious illnesses from seeking treatments that have been proven to be safe and effective.