THE HISTORY of
BLOOD TRANSFUSION MEDICINE
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THE HISTORY OF BLOOD TRANSFUSION AND BLOOD TRANSFUSION MEDICINE. BLOOD TRANSFUSION HISTORY, IN DATE ORDER - LINKS TO BLOOD TRANSFUSION INFORMATION.

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1492 - Pope Innocent VIII, in Rome, had an apoplectic stroke; became weak and went into a coma. His physician advised a Blood transfusion as a therapeutic measure for the Pope's illness. Employing crude methods, the Pope did not benefit and died by the end of that year.

1615 - Andreas Libavius described his technique of Blood transfusion. It was unfortunately not adequately publicized.

1628 - English physician William Harvey (1578-1657) described the functions of the heart and the circulation of Blood. He showed that the heart was a pump and that the pulse wave was caused by the contraction of the heart which expelled Blood into the arteries. The same Blood then returned to the heart by travelling through the veins. Hence, Blood moved in a circle in the body. Harvey was also able to deduce that the function of the valves was to prevent backflow of the Blood in the veins.

1665 - The first  Blood transfusions of record take place. Animal experiments conducted by Richard Lower, an Oxford physician started as 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.

1667 - Jean-Baptiste Denis in France reported successful transfusions from sheep to humans.

1678 - Transfusion from animals to humans, having been tried in many different ways, was deemed to be unsuccessful, and was subsequently outlawed by the Paris Society of Physicians because of reactions, many resulting in death.

1795 - In Philadelphia an American physician, Philip Syng Physick, performed the first known human Blood transfusion, although he did not publish the particulars.

1818 - James Blundell, a British obstetrician, performed the first successful transfusion of human Blood to a patient for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. Using the patient's husband as a donor, he extracted a small amount of Blood from the husband's arm and, using a syringe, he successfully transfused the wife. Between 1825 and 1830, he performed ten documented transfusions, five of which proved beneficial to his patients, and published these results. He also devised various instruments for performing Blood transfusions.

1840 - In London England, Samuel Armstrong Lane, aided by consultant Dr. Blundell, performed the first successful whole Blood transfusion to treat hemophilia.

1867 - English surgeon Joseph Lister utilized antiseptics to control infection during Blood transfusions.

1873 to 1880 - Physicians in the United States are documented, during these years, to have transfused milk (from cows and goats) to humans.

1884 - Saline infusion replaced milk as a 'Blood substitute' due to increased frequency of adverse reaction to milk.

1901 - Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian physician, and the most important individual in the field of Blood transfusion, documented the first three human Blood groups (based on substances present on the red Blood cells), A, B and O.

1902 - A fourth main Blood type, AB was found by A. Decastrello and A. Sturli.

1907 - Hektoen suggested that the safety of transfusion might be improved by cross-matching Blood between donors and patients to exclude incompatible mixtures. Reuben Ottenberg performed the first Blood transfusion using Blood typing and cross-matching. Ottenberg also observed the 'Mendelian inheritance' of Blood groups and recognized the “universal” utility of group O donors. Please read Mayo Clinic note on 'universal' donors HERE.

1908 - French surgeon Alexis Carrel devised a way to prevent Blood clotting. His method involved joining an artery in the donor, directly to a vein in the recipient with surgical sutures. He first used this technique to save the life of the son of a friend, using the father as donor. This procedure, not feasible for Blood transfusion, paved the way for successful organ transplantation, for which Carrel received the Nobel Prize in 1912.

1908 - Carlo Moreschi documented the antiglobulin reaction.

1912 - Roger Lee, a Massachusetts General Hospital visiting physician, along with P. D. White, formulated and developed the 'Lee-White' clotting time. Lee further demonstrated that Blood from all groups can be given to group AB patients.

1914 - Long-term anticoagulants, among them sodium citrate, were developed, allowing longer preservation of Blood.

1915 - At Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, Richard Lewisohn was documented to have used sodium citrate as an anticoagulant which was to, in the future, transform transfusion procedure from one that had to be performed with both the donor and the receiver of the transfusion in the same place at the same time, to basically the Blood banking system in use today. Further, in the same time period, R. Weil demonstrated the feasibility of refrigerated storage of such anticoagulated Blood.

1916 - Francis Rous and J. R. Turner introduced a citrate-glucose solution that permitted storage of Blood for several days after collection. Also, as in the 1915 Lewisohn discoveries, this allowed for Blood to be stored in containers for later transfusion, and aided in the transition from the vein-to-vein method to direct transfusion. This discovery also directly led to the establishment of the first Blood 'depot' by the British during World War I. Oswald Robertson was credited as the creator of the Blood depots.

1925 - Karl Landsteiner, then working in New York City, in collaboration with Phillip Levine, discovered three more Blood groups: M, N and P. View Nobel Biography.

1926 - The British Red Cross instituted the first human Blood transfusion service in the world.

1930 - Karl Landsteiner, the most important figure in transfusion medicine, who discovered the first three human Blood groups, received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

1932 - The first facility functioning as a Blood bank was established in a Leningrad Russia hospital.

1937 - Bernard Fantus, director of therapeutics at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois (U. S.), established the first hospital Blood bank in the United States. In creating a hospital laboratory that could preserve and store donor Blood, Fantus originated the term 'Blood bank.' Within a few years, hospital and community Blood banks began to be established across the United States. In the U. S., some of the earliest documented were in Cincinnati, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

1939 and 1940 - The Rh Blood group system was discovered by Karl Landsteiner, Alex Wiener, Philip Levine and R. E. Stetson and was soon recognized as the cause of the then majority of transfusion reactions. Known as the Rhesus (Rh) system, once this reliable test for this grouping had been established, transfusion reactions became rare. Identification of the Rh factor has stood next to ABO as another important breakthrough in Blood banking.

1940 - Edwin Cohn, a professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School, developed a cold ethanol fractionation; the process of breaking down plasma into components and products. Albumin, a protein with powerful osmotic properties, plus gamma globulin and fibrinogen were isolated and became available for clinical use. The efficacy of the use of albumin in transfusion was then first demonstrated by John Elliott.

1941 - Isodor Ravdin, a prominent surgeon from Philadelphia, effectively treated victims of the Pearl Harbor attack with Cohn's albumin for shock. Injected into the Blood stream, albumin absorbs liquid from surrounding tissues, preventing Blood vessels from collapsing; the finding associated with shock.

1943 - The introduction by J.F. Loutit and P. L. Mollison of acid citrate dextrose (ACD) solution, which reduces the volume of anticoagulant, permitted transfusions of greater volumes of Blood and longer term Blood storage.

1943 - P. Beeson published the classic description of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis.

1945 - Coombs, Mourant and Race described the use of antihuman globulin (the “Coombs Test”) to identify “incomplete” antibodies.

1947 - The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) was formed to "promote common goals among Blood banking facilities and the American Blood donating public."

1949 and 1950 - The U. S. Blood collection system had now grown to approximately 1,500 hospital Blood banks, 46 community Blood centers and 31 American Red Cross regional Blood centers.

1950 - The use of glycerol cryoprotectant for freezing red Blood cells became widespread.

1950 - Carl Walter and W. P. Murphy, Jr., introduced the plastic bag for Blood collection. This replaced breakable glass bottles with rugged plastic bags. This technical development enabled the evolution of a collection system capable of safer and easier preparation of multiple Blood components from a single unit of whole Blood.

1951 - The AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) was established as a clearinghouse providing a centralized system in the United States for exchanging Blood among Blood banks.

1953 - Development of the refrigerated centrifuge began to further expedite Blood component therapy.

1954 - The Blood product Cryoprecipitate (now AHF) was developed for people suffering from hemophilia.

1954 to 1958 - Products made from Blood plasma were developed to treat diseases such as chicken pox.

1959 - Max Perutz of Cambridge University deciphered the molecular structure of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen and gives red Blood cells their color.

1960 - A. Solomon and J. L. Fahey reported the first therapeutic plasmapheresis procedure.

1961 - The role of platelet concentrates in reducing mortality from hemorrhage in cancer patients was recognized.

1962 - The first antihemophilic factor (AHF) concentrate to treat coagulation disorders in hemophilia patients was developed through the process of fractionation.

1962 - The United States reported approximately 4,400 hospital Blood banks, 123 community Blood centers and 55 American Red Cross Blood centers, collecting, in aggregate total, as many as six million units of Blood per year.

1964 - Plasmapheresis was introduced as a means of collecting Plasma for fractionation.

1967 - Rh immune globulin was commercially introduced to prevent Rh disease in the newborns of Rh-negative women.

1967 - National Blood Resources Program at National Heart and Lung Institute is established.

1969 - S. Murphy and F. Gardner demonstrated the feasibility of storing Platelets at room temperature, which revolutionized platelet transfusion therapy.

1971 - Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing of donated Blood began in the United States.

1972 - Apheresis was used to extract one cellular component, returning the rest of the Blood to the donor.

1979 - A new anticoagulant preservative, CPDA-1, which extends the shelf life of whole Blood and red Blood cells to 35 days, increasing the Blood supply and facilitating resource sharing among Blood banks is introduced.

Early 1980s - Doctors began training in the specialties of Blood transfusion and actively participated in patient care.

1983 - Newly introduced Blood additive solutions resulted in extend shelf life of treated red Blood cells to 42 days.

1985 - The first Blood screening test to detect the probable presence of HIV was licensed and implemented by Blood banks in the United States.

1987 - Two tests for screening for indirect evidence of hepatitis C were developed and implemented: hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) and the alanine aminotransferase test (ALT).

1989 - In the United States, human T lymphotropic virus I antibody (anti-HTLV-I) testing of donated Blood began.

1990 - The first specific test for hepatitis C was introduced. This major cause of “non-A, non-B” hepatitis. (the hepatitis C virus, HCV, has, as of the date of this writing, not been isolated)

1992 - Testing of donor Blood for HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies (anti-HIV-1 and anti-HIV-2) was implemented.

1996 - Testing of donated Blood for the HIV p24 antigen began. The test did not do a complete job, but improved on the previous tests, in that, the time taken to clear donated Blood for use was shortened substantially.

1996 and 1997 - The United States Government issued reports suggesting problems with the Blood supply in the United States, and suggested methods and procedures to improve Blood safety, including regulatory reform.

1999 - The Blood manufacturing community began implementation of Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) under the FDA’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application process. NAT employs a testing technology that directly detects the genetic materials of viruses like HCV and HIV.

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