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Jack Goldstein

Because Dr. Jack Goldstein submitted himself to a blood transfusion of treated type-B blood to prove his research, the available pool of blood donors for type O blood has expanded.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

In 1981, eighty years after Karl Landsteiner phlebotomized his own blood to prove the existence of blood types, another self-experimenting physician, Dr. Jack Goldstein, furthered the field of blood type. In doing so, he managed to expand the pool of available donors for people with type O blood in need of blood transfusions. This was an important moment in the field; although people with type O blood could give blood to anyone, they could only receive type O blood themselves.

Goldstein discovered that an enzyme found in coffee, alpha-galactosidase, could render the antigens in B-type blood harmless. This chemical reaction effectively transformed B-type blood into what resembled O-type blood. If transfused into O-recipients, it would expand the available donors for B-type as well.

Since Goldstein had type O blood, he underwent a blood transfusion of type B red blood cells that had been treated with the enzyme, rendering it into type O blood. Having received the transfusion without an adverse reaction, Goldstein showed that the technique worked [source: Altman].

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