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Important Events in  Blood Transfusion

Year Event

English physician William Harvey discovers the circulation of blood.  Shortly afterwards the earliest know transfusion is attempted.


The first recorded successful blood transfusion occurs in England: Physician Richard Lower keeps dogs alive by transfusion of blood from other dogs.

1667 Jean-Baptiste Denis in France and Richard Lower in England separately report successful transfusions from lambs to humans.  Within ten years transfusing   the blood of animals to humans becomes prohibited by law delaying transfusion advances for about 150 years.

 The Pope banned any kind of experiment on blood


Dr.James Blundell, a British obstetrician, performs 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 extracts approximately four ounces of blood from the husband's arm and using a syringe, successfully transfused to his wife.


Karl Landsteiner was first to notice that just any man's blood cannot be transfused to another


Dr.Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian Physician, discovers the first three human blood groups A, B, and O.  The fourth, AB, is added by his collegues A. Decastello and A.Sturli. Landsteiner receives the Nobel prize for Medicine, for this discovery in 1930.


Hekton suggests that the safety of transfusion might be improved by crossmatching blood between donors and patients to exclude incompatible mixtures.  Reuben Ottenberg performs the first blood transfusion using blood typing and crossmatching in New York.


Roger Lee a visiting physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital, along with Paul Dudley White, develops the Lee-White clotting time.  Adding another important discovery to the growing body of knowledge of transfusion medicine,  Lee demonstrates that it is safe to give group O blood to patients of any blood group and that blood from all groups can be given to group AB patients.  The terms "Universal donor" and Universal recipient" are coined.


Long-term anticoagulants, among them sodium citrate, are developed, allowing longer preservation  of blood.


Francis Rous and J.R Turner introduce a citrate - glucose solution that permits storage of blood  for several days after collection.  Allowing for blood to be stored in containers for later transfusion aids the transition from the vein-to-vein method to direct transfusion.

This discovery also allows for the establishment of the first blood depot by the British during World War I.Osward Robertson is credited as the creator of the blood depots.

1932 The first blood bank was established in a Leningrad Hospital
1936 Dr.Norman Bethune introduced the Blood storage system in Barcelona City Blood Bank.

Benard Fantus, Director of therapeutics at the Cook Country Hospital in Chicago, establishes the first hospital bank.  In creating a hospital Laboratory that can preserve and store donor blood, Fantus originates the term 'Blood Bank".


The RH Blood group system was discovered by Karl Landsteinier, Alex Wiener, Philip Levine and R.E Stetson and was soon recognized as the cause of the majority of transfusion reactions.  Identification of the Rh factor takes its place next to ABO as one of the most important breakthrough in the field of blood banking.


Edwin Cohn, a professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School, develops 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 are isolated and become available for clinical use.  The efficacy of albumin in transfusion was demonstrated by Jon Elliott.

1941 Blood collection in bottles were introduced.

The introduction by J.F.Loutit and Patrick L.Mollison of Acid citrate dextrose (ACD) solution, which reduced the volume of anticoagulant, permit transfusions of greater volumes of blood and permits longer term storate.

1951 In one of the single most influential technical developments in blood banking Carl Walter and W.P.Murphy, Jr.introduced the plastic bag for blood collection.

Replacing breakable glass with durable plastic bags for the evolution of a collection system capable of safe and easy preparation of multiple blood components from a single unit of whole blood.  Development of the refrigerated centrifuge in 1953 further expedites blood component therapy.

1964 Plasmaphere is introduced as a means of collecting plasma for fractionation.
1970 Blood Banks move towards an all-volunteer blood donor system.
1971 Hepatitis B Surface antigen (HbsAg) testing of donated blood beings.

Apheresis was used to extract one cellular component, returning the rest of blood to the donor.


The first blood screening test to detect HIV was licensed and quickly implemented by blood banks to protect the blood supply.


An Association was started exclusively for promoting Voluntary Blood Donation in the State of Tamil Nadu in the name "Association of Voluntary Blood Donors".

1996 Supreme court's judgement on Blood transfusion and blood banking in India.

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