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Oswald Hope Robertson (1886-1966)

Oswald Robertson was born in England and his parents emigrated to the United States when he was 18 months old. He studied medicine at Harvard and travelled to France during the First World War to work as a doctor. Robertson established the first blood bank in Britain, where stored blood was used in order to save lives.

Blood is one of the most important components of the body. If we lose too much blood we can go into shock and possibly die. It can take time for our body to make blood, so transfusions of blood were necessary in the field of battle to prevent soldiers dying from their wounds. Before 1915 direct patient-to-patient transfusion was used, but this meant that another soldier had to be taken from the battlefield to donate the blood. By 1915 techniques had been developed to store blood and so Robertson established Britain's first blood bank. He returned to the United States after the war and continued his research on airborne infections.


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L T Coggeshall, ‘Oswald Hope Robertson’, Biographical Memoirs, 42 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), pp 319-338