Viva La Vegan!

Claim: Each year, millions of people in the UK benefit from treatments that have been developed and tested on animals. Animals have been used for the development of blood transfusions

Reply: Blood transfusions have now saved over 1 billion people.

“In 1900 Karl Landsteiner found out that the blood of two people under contact agglutinates, and in 1901 he found that this effect was due to contact of blood with blood serum. As a result he succeeded in identifying the three blood groups A, B and O, which he labelled C, of human blood. Landsteiner also found out that blood transfusion between persons with the same blood group did not lead to the destruction of blood cells, whereas this occurred between persons of different blood groups.[5] Based on his findings, in 1907 the first successful blood transfusion was performed by Reuben Ottenberg at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Ref 5: Title of German publication: Bur Kennie red argumentativeness, Fleischer undo agglomeration Workings eds Blusters fund deer Nymphet in Centralblatt f. Bakteriologie, Parasitenkunde u. Infektionskrankheiten, vol. 27 (1900) pp. 357-362

From the official site of the Nobel Prize…”But his name will no doubt always be honoured for his discovery in 1901 of, and outstanding work on, the blood groups, for which he was given the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1930.  …in 1909, he classified the bloods of human beings into the now well-known A, B, AB, and O groups and showed that transfusions between individuals of groups A or B do not result in the destruction of new blood cells and that this catastrophe occurs only when a person is transfused with the blood of a person belonging to a different group.”

Needless to say transfusing blood from animals to humans could never have determined this.

Re Rh factor… Rh Blood Antigen
[An antigen is a cell surface protein that may initiate an immune system response. If a person who lacks a certain red blood cell antigen receives donor blood with that antigen, that person may have a transfusion reaction.]In 1937, a woman bled severely after delivering a macerated fetus, requiring a blood transfusion. A transfusion with her husband’s blood, matched for the known blood groups at the time, resulted in a near-fatal transfusion reaction. Clinical researchers, after performing a series of clotting studies, surmised that there must be a yet-undefined major blood antigen.14 Karl Landsteiner and Alexander Wiener’s subsequent blood clotting studies indicated that this antigen was similar to one found in monkeys, and they named it Rh for the rhesus monkey.15 Subsequent research demonstrated that the two antigens were genetically different,16 but the term Rh had already been so widely used that it was impossible to change. R. Race and Ruth Sanger have observed:

Many years later it came to be realized that the rabbit anti-rhesus and the human anti-Rh antibodies are not the same. The vast literature which had accumulated made it impossible to change the name of the human antibody from anti-Rh, and the suggestion of Levine that the rabbit anti-rhesus antibody should be called anti-LW, in honour of Landsteiner and Wiener, has been widely adopted.7  Landers A. Advice to readers. Baton Rouge Morning Advocate Mar 1, 1990.

Indeed, Philip Levine himself, who discovered the new human blood antigen, has noted that Landsteiner and Wiener’s report, “contains nothing of clinical significance.”16 While the name Rh suggests a close link between nonhuman primate research and human medicine, we now know it to be a misnomer.  

 14. Simmer H. Pfluger's nerve reflex theory of menstruation: The product of analogy, teleology and neurophysiology. Clio Medica 1977;12:57-90.
15. Morris RT. The ovarian graft. New York Med J 1895;62:436-437.
16. Morris RT. Notes on ovarian grafting. Medical Record 1901;59:83-87.


On individual differences in human blood

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1930

“The question now arises whether iso-agglutination by normal serum is

confined to human blood or whether it also occurs in animals. In fact such

reactions are found but are distinct in only a small number of species and are

hardly ever as regular as in man. Only the highest anthropoid apes - whose

blood corpuscles, though scarcely their proteins, differ from those of man -

have blood group characteristics, which, in so far as we have yet been able

to establish, correspond completely to those of man.

It can be assumed that a comparative examination of a large number of

animal species will help to explain how the groups are formed - a phenomenon which is not fully understood. One noteworthy result of the examination

of animal blood has already been obtained. Very soon after the first

observations on iso-agglutination had been made, Ehrlich and Morgenroth

described experiments in which, by means of blood-solvent antibodies (isolysins),

they demonstrated differences in the blood of goats which arose

when the animals were injected with blood of other individuals of the same

species. In this case, however, no typical blood groups but, instead, numerous

apparently random differences were found - a result which, except

possibly for the intensity of the reactions, is roughly what one might have

expected. Similar investigations, especially those conducted by Todd on

cattle and chickens (Landsteiner and Miller; Todd) indicated almost complete individual specificity.”

Claim: insulin for diabetes

Reply: During the 1920s, the dog experiments performed by scientists Banting and Best were strongly criticised as:

"... a wrongly conceived, wrongly conducted, and wrongly interpreted series of experiments."
(Dr F. Roberts, "Insulin", British Medical Journal, 1922.)

Readers are also directed to the clinical work of an American pathologist Dr Moses Barron, who published an article based on the autopsy of a patient who had died of pancreatic lithiasis, in which he says:

"The scientists Banting and Best were incorrectly credited with the discovery of insulin."
(Dr M. Barron, "The Relation of the Islets of Langerhans Diabetes with Special Reference to Cases of Pancreatic Lithiasis", Surgery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, November 5 1920.)

  • "Unfortunately, the condition of a dog with a small but healthy part of his pancreas left is essentially different from that of a person suffering from diabetes... in human diabetes two factors are present:

    1. an essentially progressive lesion absent in experimental animals; and

    2. the detrimental effect of improper diet."

(Hugh MacLean, M.D., D.Sc., Lancet, May 26 1923, page 1043.)

  • "There is no laboratory method of inducing diabetes... which is exactly comparable to the clinical condition.  At best we can get only crude approximations.  The dangers of arguing from one species to another, or even from one strain to another of the same species are certainly not to be neglected."
    (Dr F.G. Young, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of London, Lancet, December 18 1948, pages 955-956.)

"Arguments based on the insulin requirements of the depancreatised dog and cat applied to human diabetes are quantitatively dangerous."
(Dr F. G. Young, D.Sc., PhD., F.R.S., British Medical Journal, November 17 1951, pages 1167-1168.)

  • "The causes of diabetes mellitus remains unknown in both man and animals.  In spite of certain species similarities, there are a number of important differences - differences in clinical manifestation, in aetological factors and in the liability to certain long-term complications of the disease."
    (Dr Harry Keen, BSc, M.R.C.P., "Spontaneous Diabetes in Man and Animals", Veterinary Record, July 9 1960, page 557.)

Further, in Clinical Medical Discoveries, Medical Historian M. Beddow Bayly, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., says that the association of diabetes with degenerative changes in the Beta cells in the pancreas was a well-recognised clinical discovery long before animal experiments in this connection were contemplated.  "The means of separating from the pancreas the active principle, which Professor Schafer, a renowned physiologist had already in 1915 designated insulin", was, says Dr Beddow Bayly, "repeated by Banting who demonstrated it on a medical colleague who suffered from the disease.  However the numerous experiments made by Banting on thousands of dogs proved nothing of value to human medicine, since, as is scientifically recognised, the dogs were not suffering from diabetes... The discovery, isolation and application of insulin was a clinical one."

  • "Dr Banting, Canada's medical hero, who is popular and erroneously credited with the discovery of insulin by extirpating the pancreases of thousands of dogs, did not cause diabetes, but stress."
    (J.A. Pratt, "A Reappraisal of Research Leading to the Discovery of Insulin", Journal of the History of Medicine, Vol. 9, 1954, pages 281-289.)

 Animal derived insulin for humans…

  • "Side effects of insulin treatment include an unusually high incidence of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and gangrene.  This, some medical men believe is due to the foreign nature of animal insulin."
    (A.L. Notkins, "The Causes of Diabetes", Scientific American, Vol. 241, No. 5, November 1979, pages 62-73.)

 Claim: anaesthetics

Oxford Dictionary of Scientists:

Crawford Williamson Long

American physician (1815–1878)

Long, who was born in Danielsville, Georgia, received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1839. He then practiced in the small Georgian village of Jefferson where he became probably the first physician to perform surgery using ether as an anesthetic. (There is one earlier record of the administration of ether, for a tooth extraction: in January 1842, William Clark gave ether to a patient whose tooth was then removed by Elijah Pope.)The idea of using ether came to Long after he had engaged in ‘ether frolics’ – wild parties at which ether was inhaled for exhilarative effect. Long noticed that he developed many bruises during such parties but had no recollection of sustaining any injuries. This suggested to him the possibility of using it more constructively to provide surgical anesthesia. Consequently on 30 March 1842, Long removed a small tumor from the neck of an etherized patient who assured him, when he regained consciousness, that he had not experienced any pain. Long followed this up in July by painlessly amputating the toe of a young etherized boy. However, Long had little chance to use his dramatic discovery in major operations and did not publish details until 1849. By this time William Morton had already (1846) given a public demonstration of the use of ether as an anesthetic and Long thus received little credit for his discovery.



Research on modern techniques to reduce surgical pain began when an English scientist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) discovered that inhalation of nitrous oxide might relieve pain. Others followed suit and dug up other gases like carbon dioxide which produced similar effects. Cocaine injections in the eye, mouth and other areas of body were also found useful in blocking nerve impulses.


Not too many medical revelations could be termed as significant and elementary as the discovery and development of Anesthesia. It was a turning point for the world of medicine and surgery, as the physicians and surgeons could concentrate on the case at hand without either worrying about the safety of the patient in terms of enduring pain or the shrieks that shook the hospital buildings.

Different anesthetic practices were in use in his time when Crawford Long revived the field of surgical anesthesia by using diethyl ether as an anesthetic. This ingenious discovery based on his insightfulness and keen observation established him as the pioneer of surgical anesthesia. In the honor of his groundbreaking achievement, the day of his discovery is recognized as ‘Doctor’s day’ to celebrate the birth of anesthesia which conquered human pain.

Dr. Crawford W. Long applied his social observations with ether to surgery well before Morton’s discovery. During his time in Philadelphia, it was tasteful among young socialites to inhale gases such as sulphuric ether to induce euphoria. During one such “ether frolics”, Long observed an attendee take a heavy fall but display no indication of pain. With this reference, he performed his first surgical procedure using the gas on March 30, 1842, when he removed a tumor from the neck of a young man who did not feel any pain.

Long did not publish his findings as he wanted to be sure of his discovery. He began writing his own account of his discovery only after an editorial ran in the December 1846 issue of Medical Examiner about the Boston dentist Morton who claimed to have used ether as an anesthetic. In 1849 he presented his findings to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.


Commemorated by a statue in the National Capital’s Hall of Fame, he has come to be regarded as the father of modern anesthesiology. “

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Reply: ·  "The development of anaesthetics were severely retarded because the German pharmacist Friedrich Sertuner finding that morphine caused maniacal excitement in the dogs he tried it on discontinued his work on anaesthetics which was taken up decades later by an American dentist who used nitrous oxide when extracting the tooth of a colleague.  Showing once again the barrier to medical progress brought about by animal trials."
(Hans Ruesch, Slaughter of the Innocent, page 165.)

 "The maximum single dose of morphine for human beings is given as one-third of a grain.  Mr Hobday, F.R.C.V.S. giving evidence before the Royal Commission of Vivisection 1906-10, 'considered that morphia affected dogs differently, he has given large doses to dogs, as much as 20 grains, without a fatal result, and considers them to be very insusceptible to a toxic dose of morphia'."

  • "This substance acts upon dogs as a violent stimulant rather than as a narcotic, large doses causing excitement and convulsions."
    (Review of a paper by E. Lugaro, British Medical Journal, January 14 1899, page 94.)

Animal experiments failed to predict the kidney toxicity of the general anesthetic methoxyflurane. Many people lost all kidney function.

Claim: anticoagulants


There have been four main anticoagulants used for human medicine.  None of these four were discovered through animal experiments.  Two, Hirudin and Citrate, grew out of direct patient study.  Hirudin is an anti-coagulant secreted by leeches that allows them to suck the blood out of animals.  The observation was made that since the patient continued to bleed after a leech was removed from a site, it must have deposited the anti-coagulant in the wound before removing the blood.
(J.H. Comroe and R.D. Dripps, The Top Ten Clinical Advances in Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Medicine and Surgery 1945-1975, Washington D.C., 1977, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, DHEW Publications No. (NIH) 78-1521, page 61.)

"The use of citrates stemmed from the observation of sailors treated for scurvy in the 1700s.  Physicians noted that sailors often suffered spontaneous hemorrhages from lemon and lime juices, notably high in citrates."

"The use of the anticoagulant dicumoral was developed from the observation made by veterinarians that cattle who ate the toxic plant 'sweet clover' (which contains dicumoral), suffered the same spontaneous hemorrhages as the sailors.  By coincidence, this particular agent had the same effect on humans."
(J.H. Comroe and R.D. Dripps, The Top Ten Clinical Advances in Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Medicine and Surgery 1945-1975, Washington D.C., 1977, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, DHEW Publications No. (NIH) 78-1521, page 63 and page 68.)

"The last anticoagulant, heparin, was discovered when Jay McLeon tested various chemicals on blood in a test-tube."
(C.H. Best, "Preparation of Heparin and its Use in the First Clinical Cases", Circulation, Vol. XIX, January 1959, page 79.)


Claim: antibiotics

Reply: The antibiotic drug Chloramphenicol was responsible for causing leukemia and fatal aplastic anaemia in human beings.

  • "This drug was tried out for long periods on dogs and found to produce only a transient anaemia, but fatal results have followed its use in human disease..."
    (Editorial, Medical Review, September 1953.)

  • "Extensive experiments on dogs failed to show evidence of injury or disease to the canine species."
    (Bulletin, Easton, Massachusetts, April 2 1953.)

see earlier re. origin of antibiotics

Claim: heart and lung machines for open heart surgery

Reply: The heart-lung machine was the most critical development in open-heart surgery for it takes over the function of the patient's heart and lungs during open heart operations.  John H. Gibbon of Philadelphia, U.S.A. who developed a heart-lung machine on dogs abandoned his project when two patients died, admitting that it was unsafe for human beings.  J.W. Kirklin of the Mayo Clinic, without the use of animals and using careful clinical trials made a heart-lung machine which was successful on human beings.
(H. McLeave, The Risk Takers, Holt, Rinehard & Winston, 1962, page 70.)

Claim: hip replacement surgery

Reply: Hip and knee replacement is the result of technology and engineering and obviously needs to be specific to humans.

Claim: transplantation

 Reply: Experiments on dogs to develop transplant techniques were disastrous.  Hundreds of dogs were used yet the first human patients died because of complications which arose when the technique was applied to the first human patients.
(Dr Albert Iben, Stanford University cardiac surgeon reported in the Erie Daily Times, May 23 1968.)

By 1980, 65% of patients survived more than a year as a result of increased skill gained through clinical experience.
(Lancet, March 29 1980, pages 687-688.)

"Results from animal experiments in the 1960s suggested that there might be important advances in transplantation and there-by prompted a large amount of further research into heart and kidney transplants in rats.  But tissue differences between humans and rats proved that animal experiments were once again misleading.  The encouraging results had raised hopes that a major advance in clinical immunosuppression for transplantation was in the offing, but these hopes have now faded and nothing of the great mass of work has been translated into clinical practice."
(John Fabre of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Surgery, Transplantation, Vol. 34, 1982, pages 223-234.)

“ development of surgery to replace clogged arteries with the patient's own veins was impeded by dog experiments which falsely indicated that veins could not be used.32 Likewise, kidney transplants, quickly rejected in healthy dogs, were accepted for a much longer time in human patients.33

References: 32.         Domingo RT, Fries C, Sawyer P, Wesolowski S. Peripheral arterial reconstruction. Transplantation of autologous veins. Transactions of the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs 1963; 9: 305-316.

33.         Hume D. Experiences with renal homotransplantation in the human subject. Journal of Clinical Investigation 1955; 34: 327-381.

Perspectives On Medical Research

Volume 2, 1990

Baby Fae: The Unlearned Lesson

Kenneth P. Stoller, MD.

On October 26, 1984, Dr. Leonard L Bailey placed the heart of a baboon into the chest of Baby Fae, an infant born with a severe heart defect known as left hypoplastic heart. Baby Fae seemed to do well for a few days; then her body mounted a massive immunological attack on the foreign tissue and rejected the graft. Baby Fae's death came as no surprise to scientists and physicians familiar with the human immune system and with the scientific realities that preclude successful cross-species transplants.

Before the Baby Fae incident, Bailey, a surgeon at Loma Linda University Medical Center, spent almost a decade vainly pursuing research grants. His work in xenografts, largely unknown and unreviewed by other professionals, had not appeared in journals and was funded by Bailey himself and his colleagues.1,2 During the seven years preceding the Baby Fae baboon transplant, he performed some 160 cross-species transplants, mostly on sheep and goats, none of whom survived more than 6 months...

...Baby Fae was not the first human to receive a primate xenograft. In a review of xenografts,4 the Council of Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association noted a rapid rejection of all baboon transplants to humans.

References: 1. Anon: Next please. PCRM Update, July-August, 1985.

2. Roe BR, Glaser RH: The lessons of the Baby Fae Case (letter). The Wall Street Journal Dec 24, 1984.

3. Mathews J: Colleague warned doctor before Baby Fae implant. Washington Post, 1984.

4. American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs: Xenografts: Review of the literature and curreut status. JAMA l985;254:3353-3357,

Claim: high blood pressure medication

Reply: "In the old days we were taught, as the result purely of animal experiments, that digitalis raised the blood-pressure.  We now know that this is utter nonsense.  Indeed, it is a remedy of very great value in certain cases when the blood pressure is found to be abnormally high."
(James Burnet, M.A., LLB (Lond.), M.D., F.R.C.P.E., Medical World, July 3 1942, page 338.)

"Animal experimenters found, as a result of experimentation on animals that digitalis raised the blood-pressure, and, as a consequence, it was not used for some years on human beings.  The fact that the blood-pressure is raised by digitalis was found - clinically - to be incorrect in the case of human beings, and it is now freely used in cases in which the laboratory experiments warned us that it would be dangerous."
(Andrew S. McNeil, L.R.C.P.S. Ed., Medical World, February 5 1943, page 608.)

A spokesman for SmithKline French with whom Beechams merged, remarked in 1967:

"Hypertension can be produced in experimental animals in several different ways, but none of these artificial systems have been helpful in predicting the action of hypotensive drugs in man.  The data cannot be analysed because so many unjustified assumptions and interpretations have been made."
(G.E. Paget, Drug Responses in Man, Pub. J.A. Churchill Ltd, 1967, pages 120-121.)

Reserpine, a common drug used for high blood-pressure, was tested by driving cats insane with electric shocks before being deemed safe to prescribe to human patients.  It is linked to such serious side effects as mental depression, disturbed heart rhythm, angina, glaucoma and impotence.  Dr Robinson of Michigan City, Indiana, who studied high blood-pressure for many years has this to say:

"Other side effects of high blood-pressure drugs have just as many dangers, most hypertensive drugs should not be on the market doing their dirty-work.  Their side effects include arthritis, liver disease, diabetes, heart failure and senility.  Out of the 15 million people who will take hypotensive drugs within the next five years, one hundred thousand may be killed by the drug... Many of these deaths will be improperly reported since a death by stroke or heart attack is usually attributed to natural causes and seldom to side effects of drugs."

Though the U.S. National Cancer Institute claimed that Reserpine caused cancer in laboratory animals, this was ignored.  The drug was put on the market proving once again how little the vivisectors think of their own laboratory findings based on animal experiments.

"In a study of high blood-pressure conducted by the Medical Research Council, the prevalence of male impotence after two years in men treated with the drug Bendrofluazide was more than twice that of the untreated group.  Other side effects included lethargy, constipation, nausea, dizziness and headache.  Many of these symptoms would never have been observed in animal tests."
(Lancet, 1981, page 539.)

The drug for high blood-pressure SLOW-K (Ciba-Geigy) was brand-leader for 17 years until it was taken by 12 healthy volunteers for one week, all of whom developed ulceration of the stomach, gullet, bowels.
(Sunday Times, October 10 1982.)

Claim: replacement heart valves

Doctors Starr and Edward almost discarded the caged ball valve as it killed all their experimental dogs.  It was however successful on human beings.
Mitral Replacement: *

Clinical Experience with a Ball-Valve Prosthesis


From the Department of Surgery and Division of Thoracic Surgery,

University of Oregon Medical School, Portland, Oregon

Claim: chemotherapy for leukemia

Reply: Dr Ray Greek of Americans for Medical Advancement “Chemotherapy” began in 1946 when Alfred Gilman and Frederick Philips convinced the world that nitrogen mustard, derived from the mustard gas of World War I, could cause lymphomas to shrink.

In 1949 Sidney Farber and his colleagues showed that methotrexate could induce remissions in children with leukemia. These early indications suggested chemotherapeutic avenues, but using animals to hone them frequently frustrated them.  In 1965, Dr A. J. Shorthouse and colleagues wrote,

Most available chemotherapeutic agents have been developed using serially transplantable rodent tumours. Unfortunately their biological behavior and chemotherapeutic sensitivities do not closely resemble those found in human solid tumors. Chemotherapeutic data derived from these experimental systems may therefore be misleading with the result that patients in clinical trials frequently receive ineffective agents. 

Dr. Irwin Bross, former Director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the alrgest private cancer centre in the world, later corroborated this view,

...the discovery of chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of human cancer is widely heralded as a triumph due to the use of animal model systems... There is little, if any, factual evidence that would support these claims...


Claim: life support systems for premature babies



                        for PREMATURE BABIES

* Life support has been defined as "the process of keeping a person alive by artificial inflation of the lungs, and, if necessary, maintaining the heart beat with a pacemaker". For treatment of prematurity, the index of the same reference refers the reader to "incubator", "neonatal care", and "ventilator"(1). Each of these parts is considered separately below.


In 1891, George Fell, an American surgeon, forced respiration to treat victims of accidental morphine poisoning or drowning. Nine years later, Matas used positive-pressure ventilation through a tube in the larynx for operations on the open thorax. This was followed, in 1907, by a technique developed in France, whereby air containing anaesthetic gas was blown into the lungs of the patient on inhaling(2).

Ferdinand Sauerbruch of Leipzig, originally, had the idea of blowing air into the lungs to keep them inflated when opening the thorax - positive-pressure ventilation or insufflation - but in his animal experiments he found that the technique was actually harmful and concluded that positive-pressure ventilation should not be used to deliver anaesthesia to human patients. Others were influenced by Sauerbruch`s belief - delaying progress along the right lines. Sauerbruch reasoned that if positive-pressure on the inside would not work, then perhaps negative pressure on the outside might be effective. He then conducted dozens of animal experiments - opening the chest and placing an animal in a specially designed chamber, which had most of the air drawn out to lower the pressure. The lungs of the animal were effectively held in an inflated state by negative air pressure. From these animal experiments, Sauerbruch concluded that negative-pressure cabinets were the final solution to the problem of the open thorax. After Sauerbruch`s animal experiments, Samuel J Meltzer, in 1910, revived the technique of insufflation - in which air is continually blown into the lungs - in his own animal experiments. He is said to have found that the results of which indicated that the method could be a safe way of keeping the lungs inflated during surgery(2).

In about 1915, E S Rowbottom and Ivan Magill, anaesthetists at Sir Harold Gillie`s plastic surgery hospital, Sidcup, Kent, were faced with a problem of not being able to fit a mask on the face of a patient because it would obstruct their work, so they considered positive-pressure insufflation through the trachea, but found that this caused many post-operative complications - despite the positive results obtained by Meltzer in his animal experiments(2). Rowbottom and Magill gave anaesthetic gas through a single tube down the trachea, under positive-pressure when the patient breathed in. Effectively, this meant blowing the air containing the anaesthetic gas into the lungs with bellows. Clinically, they had overcome the problem(2).

PACEMAKER (see earlier)


Heated rooms, to incubate eggs, were first used by the Ancient Chinese and Egyptians(3). Modelled on these ancient methods, Giovanni Bartista della Porta designed an incubator in 1588 (4).

In 1609, Cornelius Drebbel invented the "Athenor", an incubator fitted with a thermostat(4), consisting of a coal-fired cabinet in which hot air circulated around an inner box containing eggs. The box, with the eggs, was protected by a water-jacket incorporating a thermostat tube filled with alcohol. As the alcohol expanded with the heat, mercury was pushed up in an adjacent U-shaped tube, which, in turn, moved a metal rod to open and close dampers controlling the intensity of the fire in the grate below the cabinet. In this way, Drebbel kept the temperature fairly constant(5).

Almost 150 years after Drebbel, Rene Reaumur, in 1750, invented an incubator similar to that of Drebbel but it was less efficient. Reaumur`s incubator consisted of a circular stove surrounded by a heated platform on which eggs were placed to hatch(5).

In 1770, John Champion of London patented the incubator, which was repatented in 1846(6).

Bodin, in France, constructed an incubator in 1880. Made of wood, Bodin`s incubator was heated by saucepans of hot water placed underneath it(7).

In 1891, Alexandre Lion of Nice made an incubator - based largely on Drebbel`s ideas - which was adapted for the intensive care of premature babies(8). Air in Lion`s incubator was purified through a filter and kept constantly fresh by means of a fan ventilator, while the temperature was regulated automatically by a thermostatic control. Lion set up centers in Nice, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Lyons and Paris. At the latter, 50 centimes was charged to see the premature babies in the incubators as a way of offsetting the cost of the equipment. Of 185 babies reared in his incubator in Nice, 137 survived infancy whereas they had all been expected to die shortly after birth(9).

If babies were considered too weak to swallow, Lion arranged for them to be fed - through the nose - by a specially moulded spoon, or breast-fed by a "wet nurse" who had a tube attached to her nipple(9).

Lion`s incubator - under the name "Couveuse" - was first introduced in London in 1897. In America, Dr Martin Cooney tried to persuade hospitals to adopt Lion`s technique. With the hospitals showing a lack of interest, Cooney installed the Child Incubator exhibition at Coney Island`s Dreamland in 1904. Of 8000 infants brought to Cooney, 7500 survived infancy in the Lion incubator(10).

Modern electric incubators, which have become standard in some hospitals, are similar to that of Lion, with additional equipment to measure respiration and heart-beat(11).


Dr John Stenhouse, in 1853,  invented a charcoal respirator, fitted with air filters(12); which was first used shortly afterwards at the Mansion House in London(13).

In 1879, Woillez in France anticipated the idea of a respirator for patients(14).

Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone) began work on a way of preventing respiratory failure in new-born children after his own son died. He invented a vacuum jacket to cope with such emergencies, which according to his sketches (which survived) show an airtight iron "lung" surrounding the patient up to the neck. A hand operated pump was fitted to the chamber and when operated would then rhythmically raise and lower the air pressure inside, which in turn, would compress or expand the lungs(15).

It was not until 1927 that Philip Drinker of Harvard produced his first model of his "iron lung"(16), which consisted of two vacuum cleaners that alternatively gave positive and negative pressure - producing carefully timed fluctuations of the thorax(17). After much improvement, and manufactured by Warren C Collins of Boston, the Drinker Respirator was used clinically for the first time on 12 Oct 1928(18).

On 6 Oct 1932, a Drinker Respirator was used for the first time in Britain - on a polio sufferer. The patient wrote a letter to The Times and as the respirator was considered so successful, Lord Nuffield offered a respirator to every hospital in the British Empire(18).


1. Smith,T [ed ed]. BMA Complete Family Health Encyclopaedia. 6th ed. Dorling Kindersley. 1993.

2. Reines,B. Heart Research on Animals. NAVS. 1985.

3. Brown,D. in Inventions that Changed the World. Reader`s Digest. 1982.

4. Carter,E. Dictionary of Inventions & Discoveries. Fredrick Muller. 1969.

5. Brown,D. in Inventions that Changed the World. Reader`s Digest. 1982.

6. Carter,E. Dictionary of Inventions & Discoveries. Fredrick Muller. 1969.

7. d`Estang,V-A. Book of Inventions & Discoveries. Macdonald Queen Anne Press. 1992.

8. Brown,D. in Inventions that Changed the World. Reader`s Digest. 1982.

9. Robertson,P [ed]. Shell book of Firsts. Ebury books. 1974.

10. WGBH Educational Foundation/WNET 13/Coney Island Film Project. Screened by Channel 4 TV UK. Xmas 1991.

11. Brown,D. in Inventions that Changed the World. Reader`s Digest. 1982.

12. Carter,E. Dictionary of Inventions & Discoveries. Fredrick Muller. 1969.

13. Desmond,K. Harwin chronology of Inventions, innovations, Discoveries from pre-history to the present day. Constable & Co. 1987.

14. Carter,E. Dictionary of Inventions & Discoveries. Fredrick Muller. 1969.

15. Harris,M. ITN Book of Firsts. Michael O`Mara Books. 1994.

16. Carter,E. Dictionary of Inventions & Discoveries. Fredrick Muller. 1969.

17. Harris,M. ITN Book of Firsts. Michael O`Mara Books. 1994.

18. Robertson,P [ed]. Shell Book of Firsts. Ebury books. 1974.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has been involved in animal issues for 22 years since seeing a film of monkeys in brain research in 1988. Animal experimentation has been the area which concerns Douglas the most but he has been involved in all types of animal issues over that time. Douglas will be a regular contributor to Viva la Vegan! and hopes that he can help people to use the most effective anti-vivisection arguments and action. Contact Doug This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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