Blood Transfusion Between Dogs - Nov 14, 1666

Oh the debt we owe to animals for their aid (albeit unwilling or unwitting, I’m sure) in medical experimentation.

On November 14, 1666, Samuel Pepys reported in his diary about a medical experiment related to him by Dr. Croone, a professor and member of the Royal Society of London. The experiment involved the transfusion of blood from one dog to another. The donor didn’t make it.

To top it off, the conversation between Pepys and Croone took place at the Pope’s Head Tavern over (or shortly after) dinner. Gruesome to many, I would think, but probably not much more so than modern doctors discussing a surgery or autopsy over drinks and fried zucchini at the local watering hole.

The following is part of Pepys’ entry for the 14th:

…and by and by to an exceeding pretty supper, excellent discourse of all sorts, and indeed [they] are a set of the finest gentlemen that ever I met withal in my life. Here Dr. Croone told me, that, at the meeting at Gresham College to-night, which, it seems, they now have every Wednesday again, there was a pretty experiment of the blood of one dogg let out, till he died, into the body of another on one side, while all his own run out on the other side.

The first died upon the place, and the other very well, and likely to do well. This did give occasion to many pretty wishes, as of the blood of a Quaker to be let into an Archbishop, and such like; but, as Dr. Croone says, may, if it takes, be of mighty use to man’s health, for the amending of bad blood by borrowing from a better body.

The diary (this version published in 1893) also has an annotation about the experiment as quoted from the History of the Royal Society:

[At the meeting on November 14th, “the experiment of transfusing the blood of
one dog into another was made before the Society by Mr. King and Mr. Thomas Coxe upon a little mastiff and a spaniel with very good success, the former bleeding to death, and the latter receiving the blood of the other, and emitting so much of his own, as to make him capable of receiving that of the other.” On November 21st the spaniel “was produced and found very well” (Birch’s “History of the Royal Society,” vol. ii., pp. 123, 125). The experiment of transfusion of blood, which occupied much of the attention of the Royal Society in its early days, was revived within the last few years.]

The entire diary with annotations is available here from Project Gutenberg.

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