The earliest accounts of the circulation of blood was by the Arabic scholar, mathematician and physician Ibn-al- Nafis* who described the 'minor circulation' of blood in the body.
(* Khairallah AA, Haddad SI. A forgotten chapter in the history of the circulation of blood. Ann Surg 1936; 104: 1-8.)
William Harvey was the first person to correctly describe blood's circulation in the body. He showed that arteries and veins form a complete circuit. The circuit starts at the heart and leads back to the heart. The heart's regular contractions drive the flow of blood around the whole body
Richard Lower also performed the first transfusion of blood from a sheep into a human. He was one of the foremost surgeons of his day and was involved in pioneering discoveries in blood circulation and breathing. Although Lower understood the usefulness of blood transfusions following injury or other blood loss, in humans it often caused severe and sometimes fatal reactions, and 10 years later it was banned by Parliament. It was over 200 years later that an understanding of blood groups made routine transfusions possible.
James Blundell*, is credited with reintroducing blood transfusion into medical practice. Blundell reported favourably on the benefit of transfusion in cases of post-partum haemorrhage. He performed ten documented transfusions, five of which proved beneficial to his patients, and published these results. He devised an apparatus, known as Blundell's Impellor, which consisted of a funnel and pump for the collection of donor blood for indirect transfusion into the veins of a patient. The invention of the hypodermic syringe by Alexander Wood in 1853 provided an important aid to transfusionists and led to the development of new devices to carry out transfusions.
(* Blundell J. Successful case of transfusion. Lancet 1828 i: 431-2.)
In 1901, Landsteiner* described three different human blood types, A, B and 0. The following year, Alfred von Decastello and Adriano Sturli** defined a fourth type, AB. The ABO blood group system originally designated by Landsteiner remains the principal donor-recipient matching criteria for human blood transfusion.
Other blood type designations were described in Czechoslovakia by Jansky*** in 1907 and in the United States by Moss**** in 1910. Both were in use as much as Landsteiner's and were still used three decades later.
(* Landsteiner K. Uber Agglutinationserscheinungen normalen mensclinchen Blutes. Wiener Klinik Wochensctire 1901; 1: 5-8 (English translation in Transfusion 1961; 1: 1132-4).
** Decastello A, Sturli A. Ueber die Isoagglutinine im Serum gesunder und kranker Menschen. Munch med Wshr 1902; 49: 1090-5
*** Jansky J. Haematologicke, studie u. psychotiku. Sb Klin Praze 1907; 8: 85-139.
**** Moss WL. Studies on isoagglutinins and isohemolysins. Bull Johns Hopkins Hospital 1910; 21: 63-70.)
Ottenburg and Kaliski*, described the beneficial outcome of pretransfusion compatibility testing or 'cross matching' in 128 patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. However, this did not become a regular procedure until many years later.
(* Ottenburg R, Kaliski DJ. Accidents in transfusion; their prevention by preliminary blood examination based on an experience of one hundred and twenty-eight transfusions. JAMA 1913: 61: 2138-40.)
The practice of blood transfusion advanced with the outbreak of the First World War, mainly due to the new knowledge of matching different blood groups and the use of an anticoagulant that facilitated indirect transfusion.
The practice of blood transfusion was favored by the American and the Canadian surgeons arriving at the Western Front to cope with the increasing number of casualties suffered in France and Belgium.
The beneficial effect in combating blood loss in major trauma was soon recognized and adopted by British and French surgeons. As a result, the establishment of the first bank of stored blood was described by Oswald H Robertson* in 1918. He stored blood for up to 21 days to treat haemorrhagic shock suffered in battlefield injuries.
(* Robertson OH. Transfusion with preserved red blood cells. BMJ 1918; 1: 691-5)
Development of large-scale blood storage happened during the Spanish Civil War between 1937 and 1939. The subsequent publication of the effectiveness of transfusion, by army surgeons, resulted in its introduction to civilian medical practice.
Landsteiner and Alexander Wiener described the first Rhesus (Rh) blood group. This initiated work on unravelling what is probably the most complex blood group system known.
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.
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.
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.
Robin Coombs, working with Race and Mourant, developed the antiglobulin test (Coombs' test), used for the detection of 'incomplete' antibodies was first described in 1945. The test has become a standard technique in blood group serology.
JRobert Race and Ruth Sanger, well-known names in blood group science, published Blood groups in man. This work became the standard reference book on the subject for several decades.
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.
Development of the refrigerated centrifuge began to further expedite Blood component therapy.
The Blood product Cryoprecipitate (now AHF) was developed for people suffering from hemophilia.
A. Solomon and J. L. Fahey reported the first therapeutic plasmapheresis procedure.
The first antihemophilic factor (AHF) concentrate to treat coagulation disorders in hemophilia patients was developed through the process of fractionation.
Plasmapheresis was introduced as a means of collecting Plasma for fractionation.
Judith Graham Pool identifies the technique, now known as cryoprecipitation for concentrating factor VII from Blood plasma.
Rh immune globulin was commercially introduced to prevent Rh disease in the newborns of Rh-negative women.
S. Murphy and F. Gardner demonstrated the feasibility of storing Platelets at room temperature, which revolutionized platelet transfusion therapy.
Apheresis was used to extract one cellular component, returning the rest of the Blood to the donor.
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.