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 apparent ill effects.

So it was that he gained considerable 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 madness.

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.