The Seattle Times reviewed Blood Work on April 2, 2011. Here’s an excerpt:
Denis first attempted to transfuse blood between dogs, then between dogs and a cow, followed by a horse and goats. While modern readers may find these early experiments abhorrent, medical men such as Denis had long relied on various animal parts to help cure human ailments. For example, fox livers helped cure “sweet urine” (diabetes) and beaver meat aided in those with stomach ailments. Furthermore, they thought that blood carried vital forces that could transform a recipient. “Animals did not drink, swear, or overindulge their passions, … ” writes Tucker. “Their blood was, in a word, untainted.”
In order to test this idea, and to propel himself into the public eye, Denis sought “the legendary madman of Paris: Antoine Mauroy.” Formerly a valet to a French aristocrat, Mauroy had been jilted in love. Heartbroken, he went insane, running naked through the Parisian streets. Denis hoped that transfusing Mauroy with the calming blood of a calf would cure his insanity. On December 19, 1667, Denis transfused 10 ounces of blood into Mauroy. A second transfusion followed. Not only did Mauroy live, but he appeared to have been cured.
Over the next two months Denis’s acclaim grew. Then in February 1668 Mauroy died and Denis was accused of murder. He was acquitted, but transfusion was “officially dead,” writes Tucker. Not until the 1800s would doctors make serious attempts at transfusion.
In tracing the tale of Denis and blood transfusion, Tucker has done a wonderful job of re-creating a time, place and event unfamiliar to most contemporary readers. Plus, she adds a twist by revealing what really happened to Mauroy. It all makes for a riveting story.