No this isn’t a post about vampires (or vampyres), Captain Blood, blood diamonds, any people, places, bands, songs, books, films called blood… this is actual blood, the red stuff which we all have.  This is all about donating blood. I realised that probably there have been attempts at blood transfusion over the years, including some barbaric and grisly attempts which sound as bad as the evil mad scientist stories in books and films.

In 1492, the year that Europeans first saw what they called the ‘New’ Worlds, Pope Innocent VIII inadvertently caused the death of three ten-year -ld boys, who were bled in order to try to save his life… their blood was given to him via his mouth and instead of saving his life, it killed the three little boys and he died too… monstrous… if it is true.

In 1667, the doctor to the king of France transfused the blood of a sheep into a young boy (little boys seem to have had a tough time in the history of blood donation); in this case the boy survived. I’m sure doctors continued to experiment, in secret, paying people to allow the procedure to take place; I guess none were successful as none has been recorded.

In 1818 in England a donation took place, from a husband to a wife… and success!. Dr Blundell, the doctor who performed this, continued to improve his techniques – and here is a link to an article about him:

In 1840 the first successful whole  transfusion took place, and over the following sixty years there were different techniques and innovations to improve the successful outcome; a major breakthrough was the discover in 1903 of three blood groups, and the discovery of the fourth the following year.

Her in the UK, the Blood Donor Service was initiated in 1922, following the 1st World War when the importance of transfusions became more apparent than ever. I fist gave blood when I was eighteen, and over the next few years gave as regularly as I could – over thirty times in fact, and only gave up when I had medication which prevented it.

Giving blood to me seemed no big deal – it was painless, did me no harm, made me feel virtuous, and no doubt helped people in need – and may even have saved lives. I was not paid for this, no-one her is paid for giving blood, it is a free donation, absolutely free – you do receive a cup of tea and a biscuit, but that is it.

Just recently someone I know very well had to receive blood, and it struck me how vital it is that there should be a good supply of blood of every group and how easy it is for ordinary people to make sure that happens. Just across England alone there is a need for 6,000 donations every day and every year 200,000 new blood donors are needed as older people ‘retire’ from being able to give.

Here is a link to the NHS blood transfusion service:

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