Little Bits of History

Life Saving

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 15, 2014
First blood transfusion

Blood transfusion

June 15, 1667: The first fully documented human blood transfusion is administered. Dr. Jean-Babtiste Denys transfused the blood of a sheep into a 15-year-old boy. Denys was the doctor to King Louis XIV of France and was treating the young boy who had already suffered the medical treatment of being bled with leeches twenty times. After losing all that blood, it was deemed that some be replaced and so Denys injected about twelve ounces of sheep blood. The child survived both treatments. The blood transfusion was tried again with a laborer who also survived. Both were lucky that a small amount of blood was given and so the allergic reaction was not fatal. The third time it was tried, Swedish Baron Gustaf Bonde survived the first transfusion but died after receiving a second one.

By winter of 1667, Denys performed three transfusions on Antoine Mauroy. This time he used calf’s blood. Mauroy died after the third transfusion and his wife brought charges against Denys. Although he avoided being found guilty of murder, Denys quit the practice of medicine. It was later determined that Mauroy had died of arsenic poisoning. The subject of animal blood transfusions came under great scrutiny and caused such a controversial stir that the entire process was banned in 1670. It wasn’t until 1902 when Karl Landsteiner discovered the four blood groups that transfusions became safe and reliable.

Red blood cells are of four different types based on two different antigens. In type A blood, the cells possess A (and only A) antigens. With type B blood, they have B (and only B) antigens. AB blood type means that both of the antigens are present while type O has neither antigen present. Also present in the plasma (the liquid component of the blood, pale-yellow in color, which holds both the red and white blood cells in suspension) are antibodies. Type A blood carries Anti-B antibodies which react with the B antigens on type B blood. The opposite is true of B which carries Anti-A antibodies. Type AB blood carries neither antibody. Type O carries both Anti-A and Anti-B antibodies.

Also, as part of the blood grouping component is the RdD antigen. Rh stands for the Rhesus blood group system and is the + or – part of the blood type. We currently know of 50 defined blood-group antigens. Of these, the D, C, c, E, and e are the most important. RhD refers only to the D antigen. The greatest risk is to pregnant mothers who are Rh-negative. If these women carry a fetus who is Rh-positive (having inherited that from the father), there can be a cross contamination of the blood types. The mother’s negative Rh doesn’t affect the baby, but if she is exposed to the Rh-positive component, she can develop anti-bodies which causes her system to become “allergic” to her baby. This can cause issues, including death, to the baby. There is treatment for this for mothers who are Rh- so they can carry healthy babies to term.

Blood relatives often have nothing to do with family, and similarly, family is about who you choose to make your life with. – Oliver Hudson

It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place… it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood. – David Hume

A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. – George S. Patton

The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins. – Clara Barton

Also on this day: King “Soft-sword” John “Signs” on the Dotted Line – In 1215, King John of England signs the Magna Carta.
Not Spock – In 1844, vulcanization was patented.
Protect Your Eyes – In 763 BC, the first total solar eclipse was recorded.
Go Fly a Kite! – In 1753, Franklin experimented with electricity, maybe.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sherry said, on June 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    O- blood type here. A shot of Rhogam with each pregnancy. Isn’t science and modern medicine wonderful?

    • patriciahysell said, on June 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      It is. We mostly survive things that would have killed us many years ago. Lucky us.


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