Blood History

A brief history about blood transfusions

The science behind blood banking and transfusions is a bit dark, the first time ever this was attempted it wasn’t a very big success. In 1492 Pope Innocent VIII was sinking into a coma and the blood from 3 10 year old children was given to him, unfortunately it was given to him to swallow and he and the three kids died, the Pope probably because of being fed blood while sinking into a coma, and the kids out of an acute anemia caused by the poorly calculated blood extraction. Not all was that dark, on 1667 the first blood transfusion was documented, by giving a 15 year old kid blood from a sheep, and apparently he survived (do nothing is written about the sheep, they probably had stew that day).

The first human to human blood transfusion was documented in 1818 by the obstetrician and physiologist James Blundell from Great Britain, he gave between 12 to 14 oz. of blood to a patient with internal bleeding, he did die do but had showed signs of improvement before doing so, making it plausible.

From 1873 to 1880 they played it safe, they tried using cow and goat’s milk for transfusions, after all we had food in our blood right!?
Didn’t work as thought, apparently people had some “adverse reactions” to being transfused milk into the bloodstream, so in 1884 they decided to start using a saline solution as a “blood substitute”
Had Dr. Blundell known that only a few years from then blood groups were to be discovered!

In 1901 (ok a few many years) an Austrian physician named Karl Landsteiner (interesting fact, his birthday is June 14 same as the international blood donor’s day) he made a new discovery defining the ABO system, by discovering two main groups called A and B, and the fact that some people had both and others none, for those he left a big zero for nada, but we call it “O” so ABO blood groups where born!. By 1907 Ludvig Hektoen though that crossmatching blood groups could benefit transfusions and Reuben Ottenberg started using the cross matching for his patients for better results.

In 1936 the first blood bank was opened in the US.

Between 1939 and 1940 Karl Landsteiner, Alexander Wiener, Philip Levine and R.E. Stetson had trouble with agglutination on patients with the same blood type, this called for further investigation and they found a serum that reacted with many blood groups and isolated it by injecting blood from a monkey to a rabbit, the monkey in question was a Rhesus Macaque (Rh Factor).

Well after 1940 things just got moving, the US government created a blood collection program, by 1941 the Red Cross started saving lives and on Pearl Harbor’s attack many soldiers were treated with albumin for shock.