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Postwar Blood Grouping 1: The Blood Group Research Unit

Postwar Blood Grouping 1: The Blood Group Research Unit

(p.101) Five Postwar Blood Grouping 1: The Blood Group Research Unit
Blood Relations
Jenny Bangham
University of Chicago Press

When the war ended, the Galton Serum Unit was reconstituted at the Lister Institute in London. There, the Medical Research Council's Blood Group Research Unit, directed by serologist and geneticist Robert Race, was devoted to finding new blood groups and elucidating their genetics. Chapter 5 investigates the work of this lab, as it used the donors, samples, and regionally distributed infrastructure of the new peacetime National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to study the serological properties and genetic inheritance of blood groups. Human blood had changed during the war: it was no longer simply an emergency treatment for shock, but was used in routine surgery, and during neonatal care. This chapter examines how the Research Unit used the regionally distributed NBTS, the NHS, and the bodies of donors and patients, to define new blood group variants and systems, and to turn blood into a more complex fluid, serologically and genetically. This is a story of postwar biomedicine built on relationships between laboratories, depots, hospitals, and public health authorities.

Keywords:   Blood Group Research Unit, Robert Race, National Blood Transfusion Service, NHS, Medical Research Council, surgery, infrastructure, postwar biomedicine, technique, public health

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