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October 1960

Bloodletting—The Modern Way

Arch Ophthalmol. 1960;64(4):480-481. doi:10.1001/archopht.1960.01840010482002

Elsewhere in this issue is an article on the treatment of retinopathy in Waldenström's macroglobulinemia by a modification of that oldest of medical therapies, bloodletting. Plasmapheresis is the modern method whereby the red blood cells are returned to the circulation after removing the plasma. This procedure, introduced by Abel in 1915, was described as follows:

"Blood is withdrawn freely from an animal and is prevented from clotting by adding leech extract. Locke's fluid in equal volume is then added to the blood and the mixture is sedimented in the centrifuge.... The supernatant plasma is then drawn off and replaced by Locke's fluid, the corpuscles are stirred up and the new mixture is returned..."1

Plasmapheresis remained a laboratory procedure, however, until 1944 when Co Tui described its use to obtain plasma from donors.2 Subsequent articles have reported its use in blood banking, antibody3 and metabolic balance studies.4,5

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