Humans have been fascinated by the intricacies of
blood as far back as early Egyptian civilization.
Tombs in Egypt depicted bloodletting—a procedure
through which blood is intentionally removed from a
vein—as a treatment for sick patients. Some ancient
Greeks drank the blood of a fallen warrior, believing that
by doing so they would gain the dead man’s strength and
courage. Misunderstandings persisted for centuries. For
instance, medical professionals still erroneously believed
that bloodletting was the “cure” for a number of maladies
well into the Common Era. It wasn’t until 1628, when
British physician William Harvey published his fi nding on
how blood was pumped from the heart throughout the
body and then recirculated, that the widespread practice
of draining a person’s blood was called into question.
A proper and thorough understanding of blood’s function
took thousands of years to develop. Throughout the
20th century and into the 21st, methods of examining,
storing, and using blood were improved in order to more
effectively fi ght disease and save lives. Indeed, the understanding
of how blood works in the body has come a long
way, as elucidated in this volume. Readers will discover
virtually everything science has learned about blood, from
its basic properties to its circulation through the body
to its malfunction in disease.
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