Copy of a blood-grouping tile, Staffordshire, England, 1970-1981
The discovery of the different human blood types – A, B, O, AB – made successful blood transfusions possible. Each blood type has specific antigens, which stimulate the response of antibodies to fight infection. When a person receives blood it must be of the same type as their own otherwise the antigens will be destroyed (haemolysed.) Tiles like this one were used in hospital laboratories to determine blood groups. Today the process is done by machine. Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943), an Austrian-American pathologist, discovered blood groups in 1902. However, blood transfusions were not common practice until after the Second World War.
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Glossary: blood-grouping tile
A substance that stimulates an immune response when introduced into the body.
Glossary: blood transfusion
An injection of healthy, donated blood into a patient to raise his or her number of red blood cells. The blood is matched according to type (A, B, O, AB).