Obscure and Intriguing Facts about Blood

Blood has seen many uses over the aeons – from a culinary ingredient to life-saving tool (blood transfusions). However, there are far more unusual uses for blood. For instance, cow blood has been used by the Ancient Romans to build ancient, but extremely durable architecture such as the aqueducts. Then there are far more sinister uses of blood – like sharing drug-infused blood between addicts.

Blood Donations from Beyond

Blood transfusions involve injecting blood or blood products from a live, healthy individual into another. With today’s technological advancements, blood can be stored up to 42 days. However, before the 1950s, blood could not be stored as such. Direct and instant transfusions were necessary for scenarios such as a war or a battle.

In 1929, two scientists, Vladimir Shamov and Sergei Yudin of Russia pioneered an unusual solution to this problem – blood from cadavers. Their venture paid off, with the first-ever cadaveric blood transfusion taking place successfully on March 23, 1930. However, their viability was still debatable, given the source of the blood.

Drugs and Blood Transfusion

The streets of Durban, South Africa, was plagued with an illegal drug known as the Whoonga. This drug is a lethal cocktail of tar heroin, methamphetamine, rat poison and possible retroviral medication – the type used to treat HIV. A hit usually costs around $2; however, since crippling poverty is common, addicts have found a cheaper way to get high – blood transfusions.

Addicts can get high off this drug by performing a blood transfusion of an already high fellow addict. Understandably, lack of knowledge on human anatomy can result in life-threatening consequences – such as incompatible blood transfusions. Moreover, such morbid practices, coupled with a disregard for personal hygiene, can lead to serious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

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