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Milestones in Transfusion Medicine

An article on advances in transfusion medicine by Naomi L. C. Luban, MD, and these accompanying milestones were published in December 2008 as part of the special ASH anniversary brochure, 50 Years in Hematology: Research That Revolutionized Patient Care.

1818 The first successful human-to-human blood transfusion is performed by James Blundell.
1900 Karl Landsteiner develops the classification of blood into A, B, and C (later changed to O) groups.
1902 Alfred Decastello and Adriano Sturli add AB to the blood classification system.
1907 Ludvig Hektoen is the first to suggest that donors and patients should be screened for compatibility (now known as cross-matching).
1912 Roger Lee shows that O blood can be given to a person with any blood type (universal donor) and that a person with AB blood can receive blood from any blood group (universal recipient).
1939 Karl Landsteiner, Alex Wiener, Philip Levine, and R.E. Stetson develop the Rhesus (Rh) blood classification system.
1943 J.F. Loutit and Patrick L. Mollison develop a solution of acid citrate dextrose, which allows greater volumes of blood to be transfused and makes longer-term storage possible.

Audrey Smith successfully freezes red blood cells using glycerol cryoprotectant.
Carl Walter and W.P. Murphy Jr. develop the plastic bag for blood collection.
1958 Jean Dausset discovers the first human leukocyte antigen (HLA) on the surface of blood cells, which determines whether blood from one person might be successfully transfused into another individual. Rose Payne and others identify other HLAs, key discoveries for understanding tissue compatibility.
1960 Alan Solomon and John L. Fahey develop plasmapheresis, a procedure for separating whole blood into plasma and red blood cells.
1964 A method of concentrating clotting factors from fresh frozen plasma is discovered by Judith Pool, allowing patients with hemophilia to receive transfusions outside of the hospital.
1968 Rh Immune Globulin, the first treatment that addresses the differences between negative and positive blood types, proves effective in preventing hemolytic disease of the newborn. This condition, once a major cause of fetal death, occurs when an incompatibility between the mother's and the baby's blood causes her antibodies to destroy the baby's red blood cells.
1969 Scott Murphy and Frank Gardner develop a method for storing platelets at room temperature.
1971 The practice of testing donated blood for hepatitis B begins.
1972 The use of apheresis, the process of separating out only plasma or one specific type of blood cell from donated blood, and then returning the remaining blood cells back to the donor, begins.
Mid-1980s The practice of testing donated blood for HIV begins.
1999 The use of nucleic acid amplification testing for active viruses in donated blood begins.
2005 The FDA approves the first West Nile virus blood test to screen blood donors.