Blundell's blood transfusion apparatus, London, England,1801-1900

Made:
1801-1900 in London
maker:
James Blundell
and
Savigny and Company

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Blundell (?) blood transfusion apparatus in mahogany case, by Savigny and Co., London 19th century.

James Blundell (1790-1878) was a British obstetrician. He performed the first recorded successful human-to-human blood transfusion in 1818, using the patient’s husband as the donor. Blundell took blood from his arm and used a syringe to transfuse it to the wife. He performed a further ten transfusions between 1825 and 1830 and published details of them. Half were successful. Blundell limited the use of his transfusion apparatus to women on the verge of death due to uterine haemorrhage, the heavy bleeding that can result from a difficult labour.

Blundell believed blood had a nutritive property and was infused with vitalism – a living force. One major reason for many unsuccessful early transfusions was blood compatibility not being understood. This problem was solved in 1900 when Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) discovered blood groups. However, a pregnant woman’s immune system is naturally lowered. This means blood compatibility is not as much of a complication. Blundell’s blood transfusion apparatus was manufactured by Savigny and Company in London.

Details

Category:
Therapeutics
Materials:
case, mahogany, case, velvet, red
Identifier:
A43853
type:
blood transfusion apparatus
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
credit:
Spencer, H.R.

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