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World Blood Donor Day 2019: Historical Events Related to Blood Donation

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Blood transfusion and donating blood has been practised from hundreds of years back. The experience of a blood donor was a totally different picture nearly a century ago. Back then, donor and recipient would lay side-by-side in hospital beds, with needles in their arms connected by tubes. The process would go on for hours.

With advanced technology and various discoveries in medical research, the process of blood transfusion has improved drastically. This World Blood Donor Day, lets us educate ourselves with all the discoveries related to blood donation.

The World’s first Blood Donor

In 1921, the first blood donation service was set up in London by Percy Lane Oliver. He, with his wife, had set up and run four local refugee hostels to help that fleeing persecution during World War One.

After the War, he received a call at the Red Cross from King’s College Hospital, who were in urgent need of a volunteer to give blood. He went to the hospital, where nurse and Red Cross worker Sister Linstead became the first blood donor.

Percy was so inspired by this experience that he established a panel of local blood donors. Where, they were offered a deal that they could be called upon to give fresh blood whenever it was needed, without receiving payment for their donation.

Tracing Back Events related to Blood Donation

1400 to 1700:

1492: The blood of three 10-year-old boys was infused by mouth into Pope Innocent VIII as a therapeutic measure for his illness. However, both the Pope and the boys died.

1628: English Physician William Harvey discovers the process of blood circulation.

1665: The first successful blood transfusion was recorded. Experiments were done by an English physician, Richard Lower, who transfused blood from one dog to another. Most of the dogs survived the transfusion.

1667: Richard Lower and Jean-Baptiste Denis reported successful transfusions from animals to humans. Animals used included sheep and lamb.

1795: Syng Physick performed the first successful blood transfusion from one human to another human in America, however, he never published his studies.

1800 to 1900:

1818: British obstetrician James Blundell performs the first successful transfusion of human blood to a patient for the treatment of postpartum haemorrhage.

1900: Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian scientist, discovered three human blood groups. These were the A, B and O blood groups.

1902: A. van Decastello and A. Sturli, the two students who worked with Karl Landsteiner discovered the fourth human blood group, the AB.

1907: Reuben Ottenberg performs the first blood transfusion using blood typing and cross-matching.

1912: Roger Lee defines the terms ‘Universal donor’ and ‘Universal recipient’. He demonstrated that O blood group can be transfused in patients having any four blood groups. Whereas, group AB patients could receive blood having any one of the four blood groups.

1939-1940: Karl Landsteiner, Alexander Wiener, Philip Levine and R.E. Stetson first discovered the Rh blood group system.

1943: The introduction of acid citrate dextrose (ACD) solution by J.F. Loutit and Patrick L. Mollison, which reduces the volume of anticoagulant, permits transfusions of greater volumes of blood and permits longer term storage.

1947: American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) formed to promote common goals among blood banking practitioners.

1950: Audrey Smith introduce the use of glycerol cryo-protectant for freezing red blood cells.

1960: American physicians, Alan Solomon and John L Fahey, reported the first therapeutic plasmapheresis procedure.

1982: Bruce Evatt, an American physician, presented a paper suspecting that AIDS is a blood born disease after the discovery of the syndrome amongst haemophiliacs.

1993: First edition of the ‘Guidelines for the Medical Assessment of Blood donors’ published.

1999: Nucleic acid amplification technology (NAT) testing introduced. Which detects viruses in their early stages, ensuring even safer blood transfusion.

2000 to further:

2002: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed the Nucleic acid amplification test (NAT) for HIV and HCV.

2003: First West Nile Virus-positive unit of blood intercepted.

2005: FDA approves the first West Nile virus blood test to screen donors of blood, organs, cells and tissues.

So, have a Safe World Blood Donor Day. If you haven’t donated blood ever, then make this day your first blood donor day. To know the various health benefits of blood donation, then visit our blog: Why donate blood? Health benefits of Blood Donation

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