The separation of blood components would be of vital importance in the event of an atomic bomb blast. Dr. Shields Warren, of the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston and a member of the medical team that visited Nagasaki in September 1945, has cited three distinct and separate problems in the treatment of radiation victims:
How to meet infection; how to control hemorrhage; and how to "supply sufficient oxygen-carrying capacity to the organism as a whole."
Warren pointed out the advantages in using instead of whole blood or plasma, the cellular elements themselves and thus meeting "the needs that exist at the time those particular needs arise."
The after-effects of an atomic bomb blast would probably he lessened because of current research by Harvard's "blood man," Dr. Edwin J. Cohn. Even though men can't preserve whole blood, Cohn has learned how to preserve many blood components individually, and the separation of blood would be of vital importance in the event of an atomic blast.
Radiation affects the bone marrow, where the red cells are produced, and it is some weeks before the victim's system can take over again. White cells are manufactured in the marrow and lymph glands, which are also affected by radiation. The effects are delayed until about a week after a blast.
Blood separation could answer the radiation problems with oxygen bearing red cells, disease-fighting white cells, and homorrhage-controlling platelets. No longer would doctors have to "scrap a whole jeep when only a part is needed" by using whole blood instead of a plasma fraction.
Rejected Students Give Blood
This month marked the first anniversary of the University. Institution of Applied Biology in Jamaica Plain. Inside the old Victorian building lies the modern Blood Characterization and Preservation Laboratory where revolutionary new blood processing equipment--to collect blood from donors and simultaneously separate it into its component parts is being developed.
This work, under the direction of Cohn, who is Higgins University Professor, requires donors and in its experimental phases is taking jaundice sufferers who were refused by the Red Cross in the December PHH drive. These men have been going over to contribute there, where their permanent reject classification is discounted.
Cohn has repeatedly stressed that blood economy demands transfusing only such blood components as a particular patient needs. Thus all available blood would be used most effectively in surgery it is often necessary to replace blood lost during an operation with whole blood, but in most clinical conditions only a part of the blood is deficient and need be supplied.
Blood fractionation, however, evolved from the still continuing search for non-human blood substitutes. Twenty-five years ago Cohn started to study hemoglobin in red cells, but the first real fruit came in the spring of 1940 when the German offensive had already begun on the continent and blood was needed for casualties.
History of Project
Cohn was asked to investigate to determine whether animal plasma could be safe for human transfusion. New methods for the fraction of plasma were therefore rapidly developed during the spring and summer of 1940. Techniques to yield undenatured products of great stability resulted. These methods had been applied successfully on a large scale, and studies were available demonstrating the value of such products in the treatment of shock.
Before the end of the year, however, Cohn was convinced that the problem of freeing animal material of the possibility of antigenic reactions might prove insoluble, and that in any case, the animal plasma project could not be completed in a short time. He thus recommended that only human products be used.
Throughout World War II Cohn studied blood and blood derivatives under contract with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Nationwide blood collection made possible the study and clinical use of human blood on a scale never previously conceivable. Donors' blood was supplied to the Pilot Plant week by week and the products of fractionation were studied and tested.