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Therapeutic Plasma Exchange

Paul J. Schmidt, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1981;141(12):1661-1662. doi:10.1001/archinte.1981.00340130099021.
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The concept of therapeutic plasma exchange or plasmapheresis dates back to the beginning of this century when, in 1902, Hedon1 bled rabbits and returned to them their washed RBCs in "artificial serum." The therapy was used in humans as early as 1909.2

Of course, simply removing the bad blood was one of the stocks in trade of the first physicians. The Anglo-Saxon leech books appeared in the middle of the tenth century and are used to date the beginnings of medicine in England. The reasons given for performing therapeutic bloodletting a thousand years ago included many of the reasons for doing therapeutic plasmapheresis today:

It eliminates rheumatic ailments, warms the marrow, promotes digestion, cleans the mind, dries up the brain, cures various sicknesses and makes the urine clean and clear.3

The next step in the historical progression of ideas for removing ills by removing blood was the


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