As doctors have come to be more knowledgeable about the circulatory system and the blood that runs through it, the use of blood transfusions have steadily declined. As a result transfusion alternatives have steadily increased. Through out this progression of knowledge such debates have come up, such as religious and ethical questions regarding transfusions of blood and blood fractions. There are also arguments regarding whose choice it should be to refuse a medical treatment, much less the transfusion of blood. At times some doctors will not go through with surgery without the option of using a blood transfusion. The fascination with the human body and its components has always been prevalent. Documented dissection of the human body dates aback to ancient Egyptian times. Between 300 and 250 B.C. Egyptians were studying the anatomy of cadavers. Around that same time, 300 B.C., Greek physician Praxagoras showed that there were tubes connected to the heart. Sometime after that dissection was outlawed in ancient Egypt and the progress of learning about blood and the body was stopped for thousands of years. Around 1300 A.D. doctors in Italy began to dissect corpses again. Since this time many more medical facts and strides have been bought forth. But, all these medical pioneers were hampered by the inability to see more than the human eye would allow. Necessity is the mother of invention, many would say. This is certainly true with the invention of the microscope. "In 1661 Italian anatomist Marcello Malpighi was able to see, with the aid of the microscope, the very fine blood vessels connected to capillaries. With the discovery of these capillaries the concept of circulation was complete" (Magills p. 931). In 1850 the discovery of white blood cells was made. French physician Casimir Joseph Davaine noticed cells that were uneven and pale. In 1869 Davaine noticed that these pale cells would absorb small bits of foreign matter. Another significant discovery, which is of great importance in the transfusion of blood, is that of blood types. The blood types are A, B, AB and O. The discovery was made by an Austrian doctor by the name of Karl Landsteiner in 1901. The discovery of blood types was an important observation
because if two blood types come together the reaction could be fatal. The definition of blood transfusion is "the introduction of whole blood or blood components (such as platelets, red blood cells or fresh frozen plasma) directly into the bloodstream" (Magills p. 1673). Transfusions began erratically and curiously in 1665 when Dr. Richard Lower suggested that blood might be transfused from one animal to another. Apparently the transfusion worked. In 1667 Mr. Aurther Cogan passed blood from a pig into himself and claimed success, although undocumented. A little while later Dr. Jean Denys gave a patient lamb's blood as a transfusion. This patient experienced a violent reaction, but lived none the less. Sadly though, a patient died from a similar treatment in 1668 (Smith p. 262). Human blood has been transfused since the early nineteenth century. The first well documented transfusion of human blood to a patient was administered by James Blundell on September 26, 1818 (Magills p. 1679). There are two main types of transfusions. An autologous blood transfusion is a self donated unit of blood. A patient donates ahead, prior to the surgery. The patient donates the number of units of blood expected to be lost during surgery as predicted by the surgeon. This type of transfusion can not be done any later than 72 hours before the elected procedure. Allogeneic blood transfusion is blood donated by unknown donors. The selection criteria used for selecting donors must comply with local regulations concerning local blood collection. A healthy man or woman of average height and weight has a circulating blood volume of ten pints (5 liters). Removing a pint (one half a liters) of blood does not...
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