ISSN 1556-6757







Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009


How did blood transfusion in Britain work during WWII and its significance

Sreedhar Krishna

The process of blood transfusion has gained credibility since early, and often, lethal experiments with fluids. This project discusses how transfusion evolved within the first half of the 20th century from a perceived ‘encumbrance’ to an invaluable resource. As war has punctuated this period, wartime necessity is often misconstrued as the sole stimulus for medical innovation. Existing accounts portray military medicine as being characterised by radical wartime breakthroughs, punctuated by periods of relative stasis during peacetime. Instead, this paper suggests that military medicine simply reflects civilian practice, albeit with a different hierarchy of priorities. This essay will show that war did not stimulate technological innovation, but merely necessitated the implementation of existing technologies, sometimes at an experimental stage. Drawing on minutes of wartime meetings and contemporary medical journals, this essay argues that war preparations synthesised an organised donor panel and improved the logistics of blood transport but did not directly improve clinical medicine. Furthermore, this essay explores how incremental progress in wartime can be partially attributed to the liberalised flow of information.
Full Article.