Blood transfusion in World War I: the roles of Lawrence Bruce Robertson and Oswald Hope Robertson in the "most important medical advance of the war"

Transfus Med Rev. 2009 Jul;23(3):232-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2009.03.007.


The demonstration and acceptance of the life-saving potential of blood transfusion in the resuscitation of combat casualties came in two parts. First, Canadian surgeon Major Lawrence Bruce Robertson showed that direct transfusion of uncrossmatched blood from the veins of a donor to a patient could save the lives of many moribund casualties, even if a few died of acute hemolytic reactions. Second, US Army Captain Oswald Hope Robertson showed that stored, syphilis-tested, universal donor whole blood could be given quickly and safely in forward medical units. With these demonstrations, the Royal Army Medical Corps adopted transfusion and declared it the most important medical advance of the war.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Blood Transfusion / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Portraits as Topic
  • World War I*

Personal name as subject

  • Lawrence Bruce Robertson
  • Oswald Hope Robertson