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almost disappeared in the last 15 years. A few persistent and successful researchers continue to work in this scientific area. It remains important research that could save several hundred thousand units a year. Extended shelf life certainly could be helpful for remote areas of the United States and for making autologous blood more effective for those individuals for whom it is indicated.
Finally, Dr. Fratantoni told us about the future of red cell substitutes, which may not be quite as close to the horizon as I recently read. We are likely to see such an oxygen carrier within the next several years, however, and perhaps it will find its niche in our blood supply.
In closing, I was most impressed by the diversity of the U.S. system, the systems of collection, of distribution, of inventory control. I think some might be surprised that it works at all. The others will say it works very well and, in fact, only needs a little bit of fine-tuning in order to work almost perfectly.
I thank you all for attention and your comments today, and I hope that we have at least raised a number of issues that will send you home thinking about how we can better make availability less of a problem in the United States.