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  • Blood. It's pretty simple, right? It's the red junk that comes out when you fall down.

  • It's what vampires eat when they're feeling like Count Snackula. It's one of about five

  • bodily fluids that can change the MPAA rating of a movie. Running low? Head to your local

  • hospital and have them top you off.

  • Okay, so that's not actually how blood works and before you go in for a transfusion, there's

  • a whole lot of science to be done, because even the slightest mistake in this relatively

  • routine procedure can lead to a violent, horrifying death.

  • We know this, because we got to where we are today with a lot of trial and error by doctors

  • and unfortunate patients in the past.

  • The history of transfusion, according to the American Red Cross, actually goes all the

  • way back to the 17th century, with British physician William Harvey first describing

  • blood circulation in 1628. By 1665, another Englishman by the name of Richard Lower was

  • managing to keep dogs alive via infusions of fresh blood, and a year later, a fellow

  • named Jean Baptiste Denis conducted the first human blood transfusion.

  • And then things went off the rails. Lower experimented with giving people transfusions

  • of sheep's blood. When Denis tried it, though, the patient died, and in 1670, France banned

  • blood transfusions a ban that would remain in place for more than two centuries.

  • In the 1800's, though, doctors in England began using blood transfusions again, and

  • by the 1870's doctors in America were injecting people with milk yes, milk as a replacement

  • for blood. Within a few years, though, they replaced milk with saline, which was a lot

  • better, but still not as good as, you know, actual blood.

  • That all sounds crazy now, but thanks in part to those experiments, Austrian physician Karl

  • Landsteiner discovered the first three blood groups A, B, and O in 1901. In 1907, American

  • professor Ludvig Hektoen suggested that matching blood types might increase the odds of transfusion

  • recipients surviving longer, and the first matched transfusion was performed later that

  • year.

  • Matching blood types was a pretty enormous win for the medical community, and there's

  • a good reason we've never doubled back on the practice. Passing the wrong brand of blood

  • between patients is, as it turns out, about as healthy as jamming 2% into their arteries

  • like they did 150 years ago.

  • Here are the bare bones basics, as presented by the helpful folks at the Australian Academy

  • of Science: everybody has a blood type, which indicates what sorts of antibodies are in

  • their blood. Antibodies are special proteins that work as your body's pit bosses, identifying

  • problem customers like bacteria and viruses that make it into the works. A person with

  • type A blood possesses antibodies which target specific antigens, a person with type B blood

  • has a different set of antibodies.

  • If these antibodies notice something that doesn't look right, they go on the attack

  • lickety split including any foreign blood cells that show up with the wrong set of antigens

  • attached, which is why getting the wrong type blood is a really big problem.

  • "If hemolysis occurs in the blood or the serum, her red blood cells will explode. She will

  • die."

  • Yes, that's right: explode! See, when this happens, donor blood is rejected by the body

  • in a pretty dramatic way. The recipient's immune system will attack the outsider blood,

  • exploding the proteins in the foreign blood and sending the remains into the kidneys to

  • be separated from the rest of the gang. And the human kidney, while remarkable, isn't

  • set up to handle the sudden rush of dead blood cells that occurs when a large transfusion

  • goes wrong. Worst case scenario, they'll shut down entirely.

  • With that in mind, there's almost always a blood shortage at your local hospital, with

  • rare blood types frequently in short supply. Want to do your good deed for the day? Get

  • in contact with a blood bank and squirt out a pint for your fellow humans.

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  • a single one.

Blood. It's pretty simple, right? It's the red junk that comes out when you fall down.

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B1 US blood transfusion denis local hospital milk explode

Why Different Blood Types Can't Be Mixed

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    Seina posted on 2020/05/08
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