Sunday, December 20, 2009

When was the first Blood Transfusion?

The first successful blood transfusion on record was performed in 1665 by Richard Lower. Using quills and silver tubes, he transferred the blood from the artery of one dog to the vein of another. Two years later, he transfused a man with the blood of a lamb. He gave a demonstration of this before the Royal Society in London and the incident is recorded in the diary of Samuel Pepys.

Richard Lower was able to perform these transfusions thanks to William Harvey who, in 1628, announced his theory of the circulation of the blood. Before Harvey, people had always realized that blood was vital to life, but they didn't know how it circulated in the body.

A vital development in blood transfusion came in 1900, when Karl Landsteiner demonstrated the different blood groups in human beings. After that, people were transfused with blood of their own group whenever possible.

Nowadays, blood transfusion saves many lives. People can be treated for shock by pumping plasma (the fluid part of the blood) into them. Large reserves of blood are necessary for open-heart operations, sometimes as much as 20 pints a patient.

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