Blood, sweat and fears

MEDICAL HISTORY


If you happened to be on the anaemic side in the 17th century, you may have found yourself hooked up to a rather unusual and unwitting blood donor.

Before blood banks, doctors looked no further than the farmyard for ‘donations’, even employing household pets.

In one of the first-ever human transfusions, carried out 350 years ago this month, a 15-year-old boy received blood from a sheep and, surprisingly, lived to tell the tale.

The procedure was counterintuitive at a time when doctors had an unhealthy obsession with bloodletting. However

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