I don’t usually go in for vampires. I enjoyed the Blade movies. I know that might not be the correct thing to say, but they aren’t bad. I also liked the Vampire Hunter D movies, especially Bloodlust, and the Vampire Hunter D novels. I own quite a few of the Vampire Hunter D novels as well as quite a few of the Noble Dead series by Barb Hendee and J.C. Hendee, but that’s about it. I won’t turn my nose up at a vampire movie or book (unless it’s the Twilight Series), but I also don’t go out of my way for a vampire movie or book. That said I have been reading the Vampire Files by P.N. Elrod recently.
The Vampire Files are about Jack Fleming. He is a vampire working and living in Chicago during the 1930’s. He works as a writer and assists a private agent (read investigator). I don’t think that I will continue with the series, but the writing is good, it just isn’t what I look for when I look for reading material.
Now the reason that I bring up vampires is that there is a scene in the book I was reading where Jack hypnotizes a woman and nearly kills her when he bites her and starts drinking her blood. He manages to stop himself in time, but it got me thinking about vampires and their ability to kill almost instantly from a single bite. I thought is it really possible for a vampire to drain that much blood that fast? Could a vampire actually drink enough blood to kill someone? How much blood is in the human body? What is the average stomach capacity? And how long would it take for a vampire to drink enough blood to kill someone?
Here are a few facts about blood and stomach capacity:
- An adult has between 4.7 to 5.5 liters (1.2 to 1.5 gallons) of blood
- You can lose about 40% of your blood and survive
- An empty stomach has a volume of about 1 liter
- The human stomach can expand to contain 2-4 liters
For the information of the stomach you can check Google or hypertextbook.com – Stomach Volume.
So, it would appear that a vampire could indeed drink enough to kill a person. If you have 4 liters of blood and the vampire’s stomach can expand to 4 liters – you’re dead. Now if you have 4 liters of blood you only need to lose more than 40% percent of your blood before you die. Approximately 1.6 liters would be 40%. That is definitely within the realm of possibilities.
Vampire’s can definitely kill people. What we need to answer now is how long would it take a vampire to drain enough blood to kill someone? Basically they are using their fangs (or tongue-mouths if you watch Daughter of Darkness) which are probably comparable to the needles used in blood donation. Now according to the Red Cross website it takes about 10-12 minutes for them to take 1 pint of your blood. 1 pint = 0.473176 liters and it takes about 10 minutes to drain that much blood. To drain 1.6 liters, which is about 3.4 times greater than 1 pint, would take approximately 34 minutes. Vampires have two fangs so we could argue that they can drain blood twice as fast making the time about 17 minutes, hardly what you see in books and movies. Now the big assumption is that vampire fangs are like the needles used in blood donation. It is probable that they are smaller. I also didn’t take into account that vampires would be actively siphoning the blood, but I doubt that would make a dramatic difference, maybe shave a minute or two, but 17 minutes is a reasonable amount of time. Can you imagine a vampire movie where the vampire had to spend a quarter hour with each victim, and that’s just to put them in danger of dying. It would take about 42.5 minutes to drain 4 liters of blood. In a 2.5 hour movie a third of the movie would be the vampire exsanguinating one victim. I had to include exsanguination in here at least once in a vampire post.
In conclusion, vampires are quite capable of draining enough blood to kill a person. However, it is doubtful that they would be able to do it in a short amount of time. You should be able to save a vampire’s victim if you act fast enough. The vampire would be vulnerable while you figure out how to save the victim and then implement you rescue plans.