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J Emerg Med. 2013 Jun;44(6):1146-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.12.015. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

Richard Lower: the origins of blood transfusion.

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Dorrington Medical Associates, PA, Houston, TX, USA.


Millions of blood transfusions are performed yearly worldwide. With respect to its historical origins, this practice began in the 17(th) century with an English physician. In 1666, Richard Lower reported the first successful transfusion between animals. The first transfusion in a human patient was performed the following year by Jean Baptiste Denis, a French physician. That same year, Lower transfused blood from a lamb into the bloodstream of a clergyman named Arthur Coga. However, the practice was subsequently abandoned for hundreds of years. Safe transfusion awaited the recognition of blood types and cross-matching, and did not occur until early in the 20(th) century. A number of other advances in transfusion therapy have followed, and more are in development.

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