Portable Blood Tranfusion Kit

We have a portable blood transfusion kit in our History of Medicine Collection.

Blood transfusion was attempted throughout history but usually failed, mainly because the blood would quickly clot. Blood could not be stored and needed to be administered as quickly as possible. By 1900, transfusions generally involved connecting blood vessels of donor and recipient using rubber tubing. These direct transfusion methods meant cutting through the skin to expose blood vessels. Severe and often fatal reactions occurred due to blood group incompatibilities.

The biggest step forward came in 1914 with the discovery that sodium citrate was effective to stop blood from clotting. Geoffrey Keynes of the Royal Army Medical Corps designed and pioneered a portable blood transfusion kit, with a special device in the flask for regulating flow.

Listen to Dr Emily Mayhew, military medical historian at Imperial College London, talking about our object here: