Hematology: Heating Up the Blood

Of the 2,000,000 or more Americans who get transfusions every year, too many die on the operating table, and some as the result of a medical mistake. Surgeons and anesthesiologists, who are cautious about matching blood groups, have been ignoring the fundamental fact that circulating blood is warm; they have been pouring refrigerated blood into their patients' veins.

A single pint or two of blood that has been kept chilled to 40° F. to keep its red cells from deteriorating might do no harm. And it is usually out of the icebox long enough to warm up a little...