The history of blood donation goes back further than you might expect, reaching as far back as the 17th century. The medical specialists of the time knew that blood was a vital element in the body and losing too much of it was bound to have tragic consequences on the patient. So it was that experimentation began, and a whole new breed of heroes was born that contribute their blood so that others may live. Blood Donors save lives every day by giving of themselves so those accident victims and those in need of transfusions for surgeries can live.
History of World Blood Donor Day
The first transfusions were done using poorly understood science and resulted in some rather tragic results for the patients. Richard lower was the first one to examine animals and blood circulation and finding ways to stop blood clotting. While he was of course only working with animals, he managed to drain the blood off of a medium sized dog and then transfuse the blood of a large mastiff into the smaller animal. Both dogs recovered with no appreciable ill effects.
So it was that he gained great notoriety for his efforts, and was asked to speak on and teach this technique to the Royal Society. There were some odd beliefs about blood back then, and the first human transfusion involved putting the blood of a sheep into a patient who was suffering from a mild form of insanity. It was thought that perhaps the blood of so gentle a creature as a lamb might help to calm his insanity. The act of transferring animal blood into patients was strongly questioned by the tightly superstitious and morally rigid authorities of the time, and the practice was outlawed. Vanishing for 150 years.
It was an obstetrician that brought blood transfusions back into modern medical technology, starting in 1818. After he saved the life of a woman who had hemorrhaged terribly after giving birth, he started publishing works on how it was done and the study thereof. Throughout his life, he performed 10 transfusions, 5 of which saved the lives of the recipients.
World Blood Donor Day celebrates the hard work and daring of these early medical professionals and recognizes the efforts they put into developing a technology that saves so many lives today.
How to Celebrate World Blood Donor Day
The best way to celebrate World Blood Donor Day is to go out and give blood! There’s a powerful need for blood of all types and there’s rarely enough of it to go around. Just a single contribution now and then will help save lives, so get on out there and give!