Blood Transfusion in the Earlier Years of the Twentieth century

The presence of agglutinins in the blood was discovered by Landsteiner in 1901 and the recognition of the four human blood groups was determined by Jansky in 1907 and confirmed by Moss in 1910. Jansky classified his groups as I, II, III, and IV but we now recognise these groups according to the ABO classification. In 1907, Jansky's Group I corresponded to present day group O; Group II corresponded to present day group A; Group III corresponded to present day group B; and Group IV corresponded to present day group AB.

Prior to the discovery of sodium citrate to prevent blood from clotting in 1914, the use of blood transfusion was only through paraffin coated tubing and bottles, with considerable risk of the transfusion failing due to the coagulation of the blood. The first transfusion of citrated blood was performed by Professor L. Agote of Buenos Aires on November 14th 1914 but despite this, transfusion of blood was considered to be too difficult and unsuited for the stress of war conditions until 1917 when the Royal Army Medical Corps was reinforced by doctors from the United States of America and the knowledge that blood could be safely transfused spread throughout the Armies.

The links below, which are edited chapters from a book, entitled "Blood Transfusion" written by Dr Geoffrey Keynes in 1922, describes the early techniques of blood transfusion, its dangers and the selection of blood donors.

Dr M. Geoffrey Miller




Techniques of Blood Transfusion

Dangers of Transfusion

The Choice of a Blood Donor

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