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Would MAD MAX Actually Make a Good Blood Bag?

It’s been nearly a year since Mad Max: Fury Road burst onto the scene, painting the cockles of our nerdy hearts shiny and chrome. And while George Miller’s (quite literally) explosive practical effects still have fans reeling, a team of physics students from the University of Leicester have exposed a rather impractical hole in the film’s plot: Max would have made the world’s worst blood bag. Or rather, the world’s best-worst blood bag.

While Max’s body was certainly apt for the task at hand, the event would have ended terribly for our antihero. Let’s discuss.


Before we get started, it’s important to note that for the purpose of this explainer, we’re assuming “movie time” is linear, meaning that the calculations are based on the assumption that Max is consistently donating blood in the time between initial string-up, and his storm-chasing escape.

To calculate how much blood he’d lose during the ordeal, we also have to assume both Max’s weight – which the team pegged at a respectable 167 pounds, appropriate given that Tom Hardy weighed just over 200 pounds for his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises –  as well as the gauge of the cannula used to extract his life liquid. (If you suffer from trypanophobia, a fear of needles, you might want to skip the next bit.)

An intravenous cannula, the tool used for lengthy blood extractions, is essentially a hollow needle with a closable tap on one end. Using Hardy for scale, the team estimated that the one used in the film was a 16 gauge, about as wide as a toothpick.


OK, technical kerfuffle out of the way, what would happen to Max? During the 19 minutes and 50 seconds that Max’s blood was reviving a Leukemia-diagnosed War Boy, he would lose approximately 3.31 liters – about 60 percent – of his total blood volume. In a Nuxshell? He’d live, he’d die, but he would not live again.

If you took a typical trip to the donation station, you would lose just 500 milliliters of blood. After being spun, separated, and prepared for transfusion, your donated “unit” of blood would measure somewhere between 200 and 400 milliliters. What this means is that during Fury Road, Max lost the equivalent of 11 units of blood.

“Max would most likely not be able to function,” explains the team. “In fact, the loss of this much blood would most likely cause Max to fall unconscious and ultimately die. The body would not be able to compensate that quickly.” Not even a metric cuss-ton of cookies would be enough to allow our high-octane hero to hit the road, but what about Nux?

“Whole blood” transfusions aren’t common practice in hospitals, but the procedure has been performed on real-life War Boys to treat severe blood loss in the field. There are risks associated with using whole blood, like a higher-than-normal chance of infection and contaminant transfer – complications that could be fatal to someone with an already tanking immune system. Leukemia can interfere with the normal production of red cells, white cells and platelets in the bone marrow, so during transfusions, patients are given filtered components of donor blood based on their individual needs. 

The whole blood from Max’s body would certainly be less effective in replenishing Nux’s system than a dose of “packed” blood, but given the state of Earth in the Mad Max universe, we’d wager that prepared units of blood are about as easy to score as Immortan Joe’s love and approval. In this case, a donation from a raging feral was probably worth the risk.


IMAGES: Warner Bros. Pictures

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