A Brief History of Blood Transfusions

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For the first time, artificial blood has been successfully transplanted into a human, New Scientist reports today. This is a major step toward a future in which blood can be created in a lab and donations are no longer necessary.

Blood transfusions have been possible for about 200 years, beginning in England, where physician James Blundell performed the first transfusion, transferring blood from a husband to his wife after she suffered blood loss during childbirth. It wasn't until 1901 that scientists discovered the variations in blood types, helping to make blood transfusions a less risky procedure. Today, about 15 million units of blood are donated every year in the United States.

In the above gallery we look at some of the images -- startling, inspiring, and sometimes tragic -- from the history of this medical technology.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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