Luis Agote

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Dr. Luis Agote

Luis Agote (September 22, 1868 – November 12, 1954) was an Argentine physician and researcher. He was the first to perform a non-direct blood transfusion using sodium citrate as an anticoagulant (the Belgian doctor Albert Hustin, working independently, was the second one to do so). The procedure took place at Rawson Hospital in the city of Buenos Aires on November 9, 1914.

Biography

He studied first in the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, and then at the University of Buenos Aires, where he was also a teacher. He graduated as a doctor in 1893 with a thesis about suppurative hepatitis. He became Secretary of the National Department of Hygiene in 1894 and became head of the leper hospital in 1895 on the island of Martin Garcia. He was elected Deputy in 1910 and Senator in 1916 of the legislature in Argentina.

First recorded transfusions

The first recorded blood transfusion was made between dogs by the English doctor Richard Lower around 1666. In 1667, French scientist Juan Bautista Denys transfused a human with animal blood. In 1900, Karl Landsteiner identified some of the blood substances responsible for the agglutination of red blood cells, identifying blood groups for the first time and some of their incompatibilities.

Dr. Luis Agote (2nd from right) overseeing one of the first safe and effective blood transfusion in 1914

Direct transfusions were still not practiced at the beginning of the 20th century because it was impossible to keep unaltered blood outside the body for later use. After 6–12 minutes, coagulation begins manifested initially by a gradual increase of viscosity that terminates with almost complete solidification. Coagulation is the defense of an organism to staunch wounds and minimize hemorrhages. Now we know that clotting is almost totally formed by platelets fastened by a network of filaments of fibrin.

Fibrin does not normally exist in blood and is created from protein plasma by the action of the thrombin enzyme. Similarly, thrombin is not naturally present in blood and is created by the precursor substance prothombrin, in a process that involves platelets, some exiting from calcium and substances produced by lesioned materials. Since clots are not created if there is a lack of some of these elements, the addition of sodium citrate (which eliminates calcium ions from blood) prevents its formation.

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