Blood Transfusion

Discovered by : Jean-Baptiste Denys
Discovered in year : 1625

A Blood Transfusion is the transfer of blood or blood components from one individual (donor) to another (recipient). through an intravenous (IV) line in one of the blood vessels. Blood transfusions are done to replace blood lost during surgery or due to a serious injury. A transfusion also may be done if the body can't make blood properly because of an illness. During a blood transfusion, a small needle is used to insert an IV line into one of the blood vessels. Through this line, a patient receives healthy blood. The procedure usually takes 1 to 4 hours, depending on how much blood is needed. Early transfusions used whole blood, but modern medical practice commonly uses only components of the blood. It is estimated that more than 85 million blood donations are given every year. About 35% of these are donated in developing and transitional countries where nearly 75% of the world’s population lives. Blood transfusions can be life-saving in some situations, such as massive blood loss due to trauma, or can be used to replace blood lost during surgery. Blood transfusions may also be used to treat a severe anaemia or thrombocytopenia caused by a blood disease. People suffering from haemophilia or sickle-cell disease may require frequent blood transfusions.

History of the Discovery / Invention

There are various people who are credited with the discovery / invention of Blood Transfusion. In 1615, Andreas Libavius, a chemist came up with the theory of Blood Transfusion. He imagined how blood was taken from the artery of one young man and infused into the artery of another old man. Though he described it accurately but he never conducted any such attempt. His description encouraged others to consider this method as a possibility.

Blood Transfusion from Animal to Animal - And in 1665 - Richard Lower conducted the first successful Blood transfusion from animal to animal. Lower was an Oxford physician and he conducted dog-to-dog experiments and proceeded to animal-to-human over the next two years. Dogs were kept alive by the transfusion of Blood from other dogs.

Blood Transfusion from Animal to Man - Lower's experiments inspired others to experiment the same method. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys who was a French Physcian to King Louis XIV of France, read about Lower's experiments. He conducted various experiments on Lower's method. On June 15, 1667 he was asked to treat a 15 year old boy who suffered from a fever for many months. Deny's transfused the blood of a sheep into boy, who survived the transfusion. Denys performed another transfusion into an old man, who also survived. But one incidence of Transfusion failure led to it's ban in in 1670 by the British Parliament. Blood transfusions fell into obscurity for the next 150 years.

Blood Transfusion from Man to Man - Dr. James Blundell, a British obstetrician rekindled the interest in Blood Transfusion and established it is a scientific process. In 1818, he performed the first successful blood transfusion of human blood, for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. He used the patient's husband as a donor, and extracted four ounces of blood from his arm to transfuse into his wife. During the years 1825 and 1830, Dr. Blundell performed 10 transfusions, five of which were beneficial, and published his results. He also invented many instruments for the transfusion of blood. Because of his achievements he is known as the Father of Modern Blood Transfusion.

Development in the Invention / Discovery of Blood Transfusion

In 1840, at St George's Hospital Medical School in London, Samuel Armstrong Lane, aided by Dr. Blundell, performed the first successful whole blood transfusion to treat hemophilia. George Washington Crile is credited with performing the first surgery using a direct blood transfusion at the Cleveland Clinic.

Many patients had died and it was not until 1901, when the Austrian Karl Landsteiner discovered human blood groups, that blood transfusions became safer. Mixing blood from two individuals can lead to blood clumping or agglutination. The clumped red cells can crack and cause toxic reactions, which can have fatal consequences. Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood clumping was an immunological reaction which occurs when the receiver of a blood transfusion has antibodies (A, B, both A & B, or neither) against the donor blood cells. Karl Landsteiner's work made it possible to determine blood groups (A, B, AB, O) and thus paved the way for blood transfusions to be carried out safely. For this discovery he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930.

Role of Blood Transfusion in the Improvement of Human Life
  • Many people used to die because of blood loss but Transfusion saved people's lives which was considered impossible
  • Blood Transfusion also paved way for more research into Blood and it's properties.
  • Improved Blood Transfusion became most commonly used to support invasive medical procedures and surgeries like open-heart surgery and organ transplant.
  • It also led to the development of Blood Banking
  • It also became to be used in pregnancy-related complications and severe childhood anaemia.
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