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

By Pete Moore | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER EIGHT
Playing catch-up

While life was looking grim for Denis, Lower was having a better time. He appears to have been satisfied with what he considered slow but steady progress on transfusions in animals, and more keen to understand the intricacies of blood and blood transfusion than to rush into turning it into a medical therapy. But once again, London was goaded into action by reports of developments on the continent. This time it was Denis' letter. Oldenburg might have written an editorial complaining that Denis had ignored the English superiority in this matter, but couldn't deny the fact that Denis had stolen a march by taking it from the laboratory into the medical work place. According to Denis, the transfusions had been a success, and there was every indication that he would go on and do this again. England was clearly in danger of falling behind in the medical success race.

Action was needed and quickly. The manhunt began. The fellows of the Royal Society needed someone poor enough to find a small payment sufficient inducement to take part in their experiment, but not so poor that he had no education. Someone with no learning would be less likely to give them an accurate account of what it felt like receiving the blood, and would be unlikely to keep an accurate record of any of the effects. They needed someone who was not physically sick, as this infirmity might in itself jeopardise the experiment, but then again, any beneficial effects would not be seen in a completely healthy person.

In the end they found a slightly mad, 22-year-old Bachelor of Theology from Cambridge, whose brain was considered to be'a little too warm'. His name was Arthur Coga, and the fee was set at 20 shillings. Again the chattering classes were chattering and Pepys' pen

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