Combined Shapeclose Created with Sketch.
Spring 2024


Combined Shape Created with Sketch.
Group 2 Created with Sketch.
01 early blood transfusion m edit
New in The Public Domain Review
“Beasts in the Blood” : An Excerpt from 1668: The Year of the Animal in France

Up now at The Public Domain Review, read an adapted essay excerpted from a chapter of Peter Sahlins’s 1668 : The Year of the Animal in France. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full essay. An excerpt appears below:

“Beginning in the spring of 1667, public opinion in Paris was rocked by a remarkable affair involving domesticated animals: the first practical experiments to transfuse animal blood into humans for therapeutic purposes. The experiments that came to be known as the ‘Transfusion Affair’ were shrouded in the competing claims of a highly public controversy in which consensus and truth, alongside the animal subjects themselves, were the first victims. ‘There was never anything that divided opinion as much as we presently witness with the transfusions’, wrote the Parisian lawyer at Parlement, Louis de Basril, late in the affair, in February 1668. ‘It is a topic of the salons, an amusement at the court, the subject of philosophical dissertations; and doctors talk incessantly about it in all their consultations.’

At the center of the controversy was the young Montpellier physician and ‘most able Cartesian philosopher’ Jean Denis, recently established in Paris, who experimented with animal blood to cure sickness, especially madness, and to prolong life. With the talented surgeon Paul Emmerez, Denis transfused small amounts of blood from the carotid arteries of calves, lambs, and kid goats into the veins of five ailing human patients between June 1667 and January 1668. Two died, but three were purportedly cured and rejuvenated. The experiments divided the medical establishment and engaged a Parisian public avid for scientific discoveries, especially medical therapies to cure disease and to stay forever young.”