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July 31, 1915


JAMA. 1915;LXV(5):430-431. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02580050058018

The red blood cells have of late acquired an unanticipated importance as a staple, so to speak, in the stock of supplies of the medical laboratory. They are an essential reagent in the technic of certain tests such as the Wassermann reaction; they form a highly desirable component of fluids used in blood transfusion. The blood corpuscles are currently regarded as fragile in nature and extremely prone to disintegration outside of the body. It is known, indeed, that even within the circulation the life of these formed elements is a limited one; at any rate it is assumed that they are undergoing disintegration steadily in the blood stream because they furnish hemoglobin, the mother substance of the bile pigments which are being excreted continually. An approximate calculation of the number of red corpuscles destroyed daily in the body has suggested a yield of one tenth of the total hemoglobin.1