Bryan Johnson spends $2 million a year to look 18 and is swapping blood with his father and son, just like the blood boy.
As fun family activities go, this one is pretty out there.
On April 3, the tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, 45, turns up at a health services clinic near Dallas with his 70-year-old father Richard and 17-year-old son Talmage. They arrive early in the morning, and, over the course of several hours, the men (and boy) engage in a tri-generational swapping of their blood plasma.
Talmage goes first, having a liter of his blood removed and converted via a machine into its piece parts—a batch of liquid plasma and then a batch of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Bryan next undergoes the same process and then has an additional procedure in which his son’s plasma is fed into his own veins. Richard goes last and receives Bryan’s plasma after making room for the fluids by having his own blood drained.
At this point, you probably have a lot of questions. One might be: Is this like the “blood boy” thing? And yes, it is exactly like the blood boy thing.
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There’s a longstanding public fascination with stories of wealthy tech types injecting themselves with the precious bodily fluids of younger people. Experiments in mice have suggested that older rodents experience rejuvenating effects by absorbing the life force of their younger counterparts. Inspired by these results, some people have opted to experiment on themselves and tap into this vampiric-sounding fountain of youth—although, it should be noted, the science here is anything but settled.
For Johnson, the plasma exchange is not an unusual happening. He’s been to the Dallas-area clinic for several consecutive months and received plasma—not from a family member but from a young, anonymous donor. Johnson carefully screened the donor to make sure the person had an ideal body mass index, lived a healthy lifestyle and was free of diseases.
Johnson made a name for himself in the technology field as the former head of Braintree, a digital payments company that owned Venmo. He pocketed a fortune after selling the venture and started Kernel, a brain-machine interface company. Of late, though, he’s been focused on his body through something called Project Blueprint.
As Bloomberg Businessweek reported in January, Johnson is spending millions of dollars per year on medical diagnostics and treatments combined with a meticulously crafted regimen of eating, sleeping and exercise to see if he can slow, and perhaps even reverse, the aging process. He has a team of doctors aiding in this quest; through Blueprint, Johnson is publishing the vast majority of his methods and results, hoping others can evaluate and benefit from his work.
In traditional medicine, plasma infusions are used to treat a variety of conditions, including liver disease, burns and blood disorders. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the swapping of plasma entered mainstream discourse. Some Covid patients were given the plasma of people who had recovered from the disease and showed antibodies in their system, although the World Health Organization recommended against the practice in 2021.
The notion of using plasma as a rejuvenation therapy gained traction after experiments in which scientists literally stitched together older mice and younger ones, allowing them to share circulatory systems. The older subjects showed improvement in cognitive function, metabolism and bone structure. There has also been evidence that frequent donation of blood can have positive health effects as you clear out the old and have your body produce new cells and fluid.
A study published in the journal Current Biology investigates how mosquitoes use your body chemistry to select you as their next meal.