Blood transfusion apparatus, United Kingdom, 1914-1918

Made:
1914-1918 in United Kingdom
maker:
Duncan Flockhart & Company Limited; General Surgical Company Limited

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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

Bottle from blood transfusion apparatus designed by Geoffrey Keynes. Rear three quarter spot lit. Brown background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Top half detail of bottle from blood transfusion apparatus designed by Geoffrey Keynes. Brown background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blood transfusion apparatus designed by Geoffrey Keynes during the 1st World War and made by the General Surgical Co. Ltd., 1914-1918

It’s 1917, and you are a wounded soldier at a casualty clearing station on the Western Front. You are bleeding badly and going into shock. You are in danger of dying and urgently need blood – where’s the nearest blood bank?

He’s right next to you. Your blood transfusion will come directly from another patient. Is it safe? It’s the best method available at the time, particularly if your surgeon is Lieutenant Geoffrey Keynes of the Royal Army Medical Corps. He designed and pioneered this portable blood transfusion kit, with a special device in the flask for regulating flow.

Why didn’t Keynes use stored blood? It didn’t keep very well. It needed to be refrigerated – a difficult task in field hospitals, and it clotted into lumps unless an anticoagulant was added. While it became technically possible to do this during the First World War, the patient-to-patient method was still more widely used.

Matching of blood groups was recommended, but there was not always time. The first blood banks stored O type blood – suitable for all recipients. But in the meantime, you were lucky to have reached a casualty clearing station, to take your chances with an emergency transfusion. And who better than with Lieutenant (later Sir) Geoffrey Keynes? In 1921 he co-founded London’s Blood Transfusion Service, and a year later published Britain’s first textbook on the subject.

On display

Science Museum: Mezzanine Gallery: Wounded; Conflict

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Details

Category:
Public Health & Hygiene
Object Number:
A625893
Measurements:
case: 136 mm x 490 mm x 371 mm,
type:
blood transfusion apparatus therapeutics (haematology), keynes, blood transfusion apparatus
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
credit:
Welsh Regional Transfusion Service
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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