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James Blundell: the first transfusion of human blood

  • Thomas F. Baskett
    Correspondence
    Tel.: +1-902-470-6788; fax: +1-902-428-8640
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    Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dalhousie University, 5980 University Avenue, Room 6039, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3G9
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      In August, 1825, James Blundell, obstetrician and physiologist of Guy's Hospital, was summoned by a surgeon colleague, Mr Waller, to a woman dying from postpartum haemorrhage in the Finsbury Square district of London. The case was recorded by Mr Waller and was the first successful human blood transfusion [
      • Waller C.
      Case of uterine hemorrhage, in which the operation of transfusion was successfully performed.
      ].The vein in the bend of the arm was laid bare, and an incision of sufficient extent to admit the pipe of the syringe was made into it…. The syringe used by Dr B. was similar to the common injecting syringe, and contained two ounces…. The blood was drawn from the patient's husband into a tumbler, and Dr B. stood ready with his syringe to absorb it instantly, in fact, while it was flowing: it was then immediately introduced into the orifice in the vein, and cautiously injected. No effect appeared to be produced by the first injection of two ounces, but towards the end of the second there was an approach to syncope; the pulse fell a little; there was sighing… [
      • Waller C.
      Case of uterine hemorrhage, in which the operation of transfusion was successfully performed.
      ]
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