Blood Groups, Blood Typing and Blood Transfusions

Experiments with blood transfusions, the transfer of blood or blood components into a person's blood stream, have been carried out for hundreds of years. Many patients have died and it was not until 1901, when the Austrian Karl Landsteiner discovered human blood groups, that blood transfusions became safer.

Mixing blood from two individuals can lead to blood clumping or agglutination. The clumped red cells can crack and cause toxic reactions. This can have fatal consequences. Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood clumping was an immunological reaction which occurs when the receiver of a blood transfusion has antibodies against the donor blood cells.

Karl Landsteiner's work made it possible to determine blood groups and thus paved the way for blood transfusions to be carried out safely. For this discovery he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930.