The American Society of Hematology: a success at age 50; blood banking and sodium citrate

Robert A. Kyle

To the editor:

I enjoyed the excellent article by Drs Jaffe and Kaushansky, “The American Society of Hematology: a success at age 50.”1

There is some controversy concerning the introduction of sodium citrate for blood transfusion and the establishment of the first blood bank in the United States.

Dr Luis Agote used sodium citrate for transfusion of whole blood for a patient on November 9, 1914.2 Instead of publishing his work in a medical journal, he gave the story to “LaPresna,” the leading newspaper of Buenos Aires. Two months later in the “New York Medical Record” of January 23, 1915, Dr Richard Lewisohn of Mt Sinai Hospital in New York reported on 2 cases in which he used citrate of soda for transfusion. Agote was considerably displeased because Lewisohn did not mention Agote in this report. Actually, Albert Hustin, a Belgian surgeon, used sodium citrate and glucose as an anticoagulant for blood transfusion on March 17, 1914. He performed his transfusion at St Jens Hospital in Brussels.3

The first blood bank was established by Dr John S. Lundy, Head, Section of Anesthesia, at Mayo Clinic in 1935.4 He had kept citrated blood in the “ice box” for as long as 14 days and found that it could be administered with the usual benefits to the patient and without reaction. The Cook County Hospital began such a service in 1936. Thirty-two percent of Mayo Clinic transfusions were administered to nonsurgical patients. Two years later, Lundy investigated quick freezing as a method of prolonging the shelf life of banked blood.


Conflict-of-interest disclosure: The author declares no competing financial interests.

Correspondence: Robert A. Kyle, Mayo Clinic, Stabile 628, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905; e-mail: kyle.robert{at}