In the new Mad Max: Fury Road, a major starting event is that Max is being used as

a "blood bag" for one of the War Boys.

It seems to be implied later on that

the war boy has some sort of terminal illness (indicated by the two strange lumps on his collar bone and a mention of night fevers).

Is it ever actually explained why they're receiving blood transfusions and/or what precisely is going on with the War Boys?

  • Not worth its own answer, but I suspect as well as the cancer transfusions, there is an intended reference to blood doping in the way the War Boys are actually boosted by the transfusions.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 20:40

5 Answers 5


In this post-apocalyptic world, probably brought on by nuclear war, pretty much everyone has been exposed to lots of radiation and it seems many of the War Boys have cancer. Nux is having night sweats and enlarged lymph nodes in his neck, so I'm guessing he has some lymphoma, a type of cancer that involves lymph nodes.

In patients with cancers of white blood cells (leukemias and lymphomas), the bone marrow is overcrowded by defective, cancerous white blood cells, so the bone marrow has neither the resources or space to make red blood cells, which are necessary to transport oxygen. As a result, when the cancer gets bad enough (such as when you don't get treatment), blood transfusions will often be necessary. This way the blood recipient can get the donor's red blood cells to prevent anemia and platelets to prevent bleeding. This is not a cure for the cancer, but it should help with some of the symptoms.

Max probably has blood type of O-, making him a universal donor, so people use him as a "blood bag."

  • 1
    Max's blood status is actually tattooed on his back.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 20:36
  • Is there no implication of incest -- that perhaps Joe is having kids with his own daughters/grand daughters? I know he in theory he could choose from those who live below the tower but my sense is that there was some kind of inbreeding.
    – releseabe
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 2:17

Its alluded to in the opening monologue that

pretty much everyone has some form of cancerous disease. Hence transfusions, Larry and Barry the tumours, etc.

  • I guess I'm still a bit lost because I don't quite understand how a transfusion helps with those issues. I can see that if you take everything but the transfusion, that's the obvious conclusion, but I don't see how that's related to or relieved by new blood.
    – Thorn
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 13:32
  • @Thorn if you have a disease that makes your blood bad, then you need transfusions of good blood. Commented May 21, 2015 at 17:09

I presumed that many of the War Boys have a lymphoma due to radiation or inherited mutations. It was details like this that elevate the movie. Furthermore the "oil" barron who had terrible lymphedema with his bulging feet made the movie all the more "realistic" and disturbing.

  • 2
    I don't think "realistic" is word that can be used to refer to this movie ;) Maybe "detail-oriented".
    – Andres F.
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 20:57

Nuclear bombs, radioactive warfare, they are all referenced to as "half lives" - they are or were obviously exposed to radiation.


The War Boys are all sick one way or another and have shortened lifespans, so they need blood transfusions to live longer and hopefully live long enough to become drivers. They probably have lymphedema, anemia, maybe leukemia, since that is also treated by blood transfusion.

It might also be to get adrenaline,

since Nux brought Max, his "blood bag", with him on the ride.

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