By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center
Towards the end of WWI, blood collection equipment consisted of a 1,000cc glass bottle with two perforated rubber stoppers. Glass tubing through each stopper was attached to rubber tubing, each with a needle at the end. One needle was for the donor, the other for the patient (probably one soldier to another), and suction was created with a syringe.
The equipment was sterilized in an autoclave or boiled in distilled water, and the needles were sterilized just before use in boiling liquid petrolatum (petroleum jelly or paraffin).
About 500cc of blood was collected in a glucose-citrate solution. Then by reversing the same syringe that was used to collect the blood, a pressure pump was created to infuse it. No testing was required. You just gave the patient 15 to 20cc of blood, waited 15 minutes and if he didn’t react negatively, you would transfuse the rest. Hearing this really makes us appreciate current testing procedures and blood banking standards!