Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/713

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693
ON THE TRANSFUSION OF BLOOD.

which it manifests? A grave problem, which Claude Bernard, in his admirable "Report on the Progress of Physiology," seems to us to have solved. That savant holds that the brain of the animal subjected to the experiment of transfusion of the blood acts like a complicated piece of mechanism upon the restoration of the blood belonging to it: the cerebral organ is only the instrument of the intellect, and the human machine marks life, as a clock marks time.

A physiological dissection, like that which transfusion of blood may be said, in some sort, to perform upon the glandular, nervous, and muscular systems, how complete soever it may be, has no value, unless the results of the analysis are combined; the experimental cutting up of the human body ought to end by recomposing the whole of it. That is the mode of procedure in the physical sciences. The colorless beam of white light is separated through the prism as it is by the drops of water that form the rainbow, and after passing through the glass it spreads into a wonderful gathering of colored rays. Each ray is studied in its properties, calorific, chemic, or luminous; then, when the work of analysis is ended, another prism directs all these rays in an inverse course toward convergence and the beam of colorless light is reformed. It is so with the organism and its constituent parts. The individual life of the glands, the muscles, the nerves, the brain, is demonstrated by the aid of local transfusion, and the synthesis of the living being is accomplished at once by general transfusion. The blood coming from the heart is distributed into all parts of the body, no longer confined by art in a fixed space; thus the partial lives of the tissues and organs are simultaneously renewed, and the life of the individual becomes an admirable collective unity.

These important results, which the physiologist regards from the high point of view of theory, the physician meets on practical ground and in his patient's presence. And clinical triumphs have confirmed scientific views, which find their reasonable explanation partly in our knowledge of the normal life of the elements, partly in the morbid changes they are subject to. Transfusion of blood has sometimes served as an heroic remedy for arterial hæmorrhages, and losses of blood occurring after confinement. In these situations there is no injury to the elements of the nervous tissues, the glands and muscles; thus the supply of new blood restores life to them; it is replenishing a lamp, with its machinery all in order. When, on the contrary, the glands, muscles, and nerves, are changed in the first place, and the injury to the blood is the consequence of alteration in the tissues, instead of being its cause, transfusion cannot be as serviceable; it is almost always powerless; and, to repeat our comparison, the process is like pouring oil into a lamp more or less out of order in its inner construction.

Transfusion is not only employed to replace blood lost by a patient, but used also to substitute pure for vitiated blood. It is success-