Blood and Justice: The Seventeenth-Century Parisian Doctor Who Made Blood Transfusion History

By Pete Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Denis 'route to the top

Communication between England and France was good, and there is every reason to believe that French scientists would have known about the transfusion experiments Lower and his friends were performing. In the spirit of good science, the French scientists decided that if this technique was as good as it seemed, they ought to have a go at doing it themselves.

Their first attempt was in the last week of December 1666, when Parisian physician and researcher Claude Perrault headed a small team and tried to transfuse blood between two dogs. On 22 January 1667 they tried again. This was a few years after Potter and Lower had begun their research in and around Oxford, but a couple of months before King's work in London. On this occasion a group of members of the new Académie Royale des Sciences gathered in the King's library, bringing with them two dogs. The dogs were duly strapped to tables and an attempt was made to transfuse blood from an artery in the leg of one animal, into a leg vein of the other. After messing around for a while, and getting thoroughly spattered with blood, the investigators abandoned the procedure, blaming their tools. The cannulae, they complained, were not made exactly as described to the artisan, and consequently they had no idea whether blood was flowing through them or not.

Not to be put off, however, they reconvened on the 24th, this time meeting in the home of Louis Gayant, a renowned Parisian surgeon. Their newly crafted pipes were much better, and they successfully connected the carotid artery in the neck of one dog to the jugular vein in the neck of another. This time it was clear that a connection had been made, as they could now see the jugular vein pulsing as arterial blood pumped in. The dog receiving the blood died almost instantly, and when

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