Sunday, May 26, 2013

A great idea: blood transfusions!

Today thanks to Hank Green (video below) I learnt something interesting about blood transfusions.

The first experiments were performed in the 17th century by William Harvey (1578-1657) and they were between animals, specifically dogs.

The first documented transfusion  involving humans and animals (yes... animals!) were performed in France by  Jean Baptiste Devys (1643-1704).  On June 15, 1667,  he successfully transfused the blood of a sheep into a 15-years old boy, who, surprisingly, suvived! His survival was probably due to the small amount of blood tranfused.

Richard Lower (1631-1691) in England also performed similar experiments between animals (especially sheep) and humans.

The reason behind these experiments was the belief that blood was responsible for the personality  person. So getting a bit of blood from a gentle animal might quiet the tempestuous spirit of an agitated person and that the shy might be made outgoing by blood from more sociable creatures.

These first experimenters (and expecially their patients) were really really lucky!
In the 17th century, there were  so many things (watch the video below) that could go wrong and, not surprisingly, soon they did!
Patients receinving blood from animals began to die and this procedure was banned /abandoned for about one hundred and fifty years.

In 1818, James Blundell (1791-1878) performed the first human to human blood transfusion but it took  about one hundred years until blood tranfusions achieved regular success.
One the greatest improvements was the discorvery of blood groups  by the Austian biologist and physician Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943). This knowledge was fundamental because it allowed a safe match between donors and reciepents in blood transfusions. Indeed, mixing blood types from two incompatible individuals could lead to an immune response with potentially fatal consequenses.

Blood tranfusions are important and, if you are able to,  please donate!


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