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Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood by Bill Hayes

See more. Bill B.

Now, on the th anniversary of its publication, acclaimed science writer and master of narrative nonfiction Bill Hayes has written the fascinating, never-before-told true story of how this seminal volume came to be. But he does much, much more. Uncovering a treasure trove of forgotten letters and diaries, he illuminates the astonishing relationship between the fiercely gifted young anatomist Henry Gray and his younger collaborator H.

Carter, whose exquisite anatomical illustrations are masterpieces of art and close observation. Tracing the triumphs and tragedies of these two extraordinary men, Hayes brings an equally extraordinary era—the mids—unforgettably to life.

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The Anatomist is more than just the story of a book. It is the story of the human body, a story whose beginning and end we all know and share but that, like all great stories, is infinitely rich in between. Rose George. An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil.

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It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event. Nine Pints was named one of Bill Gates recommended summer reading titles for Bill Hayes. We often think of sleep as mere stasis, a pause button we press at the end of each day.

An erudite blend of science and personal narrative, Sleep Demons offers a poignant introduction to the topics for which Hayes has since become famous, including art, eros, city life, the history of medical science, and queer identity.

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Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood

Douglas Starr. Essence and emblem of life--feared, revered, mythologized, and used in magic and medicine from earliest times--human blood is now the center of a huge, secretive, and often dangerous worldwide commerce. It is a commerce whose impact upon humanity rivals that of any other business--millions of lives have been saved by blood and its various derivatives, and tens of thousands of lives have been lost.

Douglas Starr tells how this came to be, in a sweeping history that ranges through the centuries. With the dawn of science, blood came to be seen as a component of human anatomy, capable of being isolated, studied, used. Starr describes the first documented transfusion: In the seventeenth century, one of Louis XIV's court physicians transfers the blood of a calf into a madman to "cure" him.


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At the turn of the twentieth century a young researcher in Vienna identifies the basic blood groups, taking the first step toward successful transfusion. Then a New York doctor finds a way to stop blood from clotting, thereby making all transfusion possible. In the s, a Russian physician, in grisly improvisation, successfully uses cadaver blood to help living patients--and realizes that blood can be stored. The first blood bank is soon operating in Chicago. During World War II, researchers, driven by battlefield needs, break down blood into usable components that are more easily stored and transported.

A Personal and Natural History of Blood

But there is a big problem with this book. Twenty-five years ago, before the disease had been named acquired immune deficiency syndrome, before it was accepted as being caused by a virus, and certainly before the possibility of diagnostic tests, it was a uniformly fatal condition observed only in a few male homosexuals. But soon it was also identified in childhood recipients of transfusions from blood donors, presumably from that gay population. Almost immediately, clergymen, politicians, entertainment celebrities, and pillars of the community who had the disease began claiming that their exposures must have been from blood transfusions.

The national panic and finger-pointing began. Television networks introduced their news stories about AIDS by showing blood being donated and blood in storage. Presumably that was a more publicly acceptable angle than that of gay men in San Francisco, but the subliminal message was delivered. In fact, some health authorities believe this misplaced fear has led to lax safe-sex practices, causing the disease to spread among young people.

Today, with blood tests that are sensitive enough to detect the DNA of HIV, the risk of contracting the virus is less than one in 2 million transfusions. Yet the great fear persists. The public avoids what it cannot control more than what it thinks it can control. That same thinking leads people to travel by automobile rather than by statistically much safer airplanes.

Hospitals still offer a form during the admission process that allows people to refuse to accept transfusion, but does not mention all the other things in a hospital that can kill. Patients want transfusions from relatives and friends about whose personal lives they know little, rather than from altruistic volunteers with nothing to gain by donating blood.


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Surgeons are offered educational seminars on "bloodless surgery" a valid concept in the face of the extravagant overuse of blood 30 years ago , sponsored by Jehovah's Witnesses who oppose transfusions, and at which a church elder may allude suggestively to "the recent dangers. To his credit, Hayes does not directly foment any fear of blood transfusion as a proximate cause of AIDS. But the great fear comes through from the very first chapter. He describes how Steve suffers a scalp wound from an accident in their home.


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Steve comes to him needing assistance in stanching the bleeding and cleaning up. Hayes describes his revulsion at touching that blood and thereby potentially exposing himself to HIV.