Audrey Quinn, a science-focused radio producer, gave a great summary of my lecture at Observatory on March 22, 2011. Here’s an excerpt (full blog post is here):
Holly Tucker is a French studies professor at Vanderbilt University, but she’s also huge medical history nut. Her book “Blood Work” just came out this Spring. She starts out by explaining just how poor of an idea 17th Century Europeans had of how blood works in the body. When William Harvey proposed the idea in 1628 that blood circulates, the medical community was outraged. The mostly widely agreed upon idea was that our bodies turned food into blood, then the heart acted as a furnace using up the blood. Doctors confirmed Harvey’s hypothesis by testing out transfusions in animals. They then took the next logical step- transfusing animal blood into humans. Why? Animals do not lie, cheat, or steal, argued 17th century physicians, making their blood more “pure” than that of humans. This animal-to-human transfusion thing didn’t work out very well for one Jean Denis. In 1667 his transfusion of lamb blood into a man left him on trial for murder. After that, France effectively banned all transfusions.