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.