Blundell's blood transfusion apparatus, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Manufactured by Savigny and Co, London. James Blundell (1790-1877), a British obstetrician, performed the first succesful human to human blood transfusion in 1818. Using the patient's husband as the donor, he took blood from his arm and using a syringe, transfused it to the woman. Between 1825 and 1830, Blundell carried out a further 10 transfusions which he published details of, half of them being succesful. The reason for the poor succes rate of early transfusions was that the compatability of blood was not then understood. This problem was solved in 1900 when Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) discovered blood groups.