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Lower, Richard

blood transfusion oxford human

(1631–91) English physiologist: made first successful direct blood transfusion.

Lower qualified in medicine at Oxford, where he assisted his teacher with dissections, and then moved to London to practise; he was an early Fellow of the Royal Society and had belonged to the Oxford group that founded it. In Oxford in 1665 he demonstrated transfusion of blood from the artery of one dog to the vein of another. Pepys in his diary for 1667 reports on a successful human blood transfusion performed as a Royal Society experiment by Lower: ‘I was pleased to see the person who had his blood taken out. He speaks well . . . and as a new man.’ This was probably the first human blood transfusion in the UK. Later attempts by others to transfuse from animals to humans led to some deaths, and only after work from 1900 on blood groups did human transfusion become useful. Lower’s Treatise on the Heart (1669) gives a good account of the structures of the heart. He recognized that it is not ‘inflated by spirits’ but acts as a muscular pump, with systole as the active phase and diastole a ‘return movement’. He studied the colour change between dark venous blood and red arterial blood, experimented with dogs and deduced that the red colour results from mixing the dark blood with inspired air in the lungs; he realized that the purpose of respiration is to add something to the blood. After 1670 he concentrated on his medical practice.

Lowery, Samuel R.(1832–1900) - Minister, lawyer, Begins Ministry, Chronology, Pursues Interest in Law, Establishes Loweryvale Community [next] [back] Lowell, Percival

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