Introduction to Transfusions and Transplants


Not too long ago, taking one person’s blood or organs and putting them inside of someone else would be thought of as science fiction.
Blood transfusions have been around for a very long time, but before the 20th century, they were almost always fatal.
Organ transplants have been around for a long time too, but before the last century they almost always ended in disaster and were considered science fiction. How did we become able to swap our failing organs with new ones from other people or animals?
In this resource, we’ll explore why our body rejects these lifesaving treatments, how we can sometimes overcome this and what we have to look forward to in the near future?

• Begin to understand the ABO blood system
• Begin to understand transfusion and transplants

This resource was funded by the Take Your Place project.  To find out more information visit

Resource activities

Transfusion Medicine

In this activity, you will look at different blood types and start to understand the ABO system.


How Transplantations Work

In this activity you will be introduced the brief history of organ transplantations and understand some key terms


Activity questions

  • Which blood types cannot receive A- blood (A in the ABO system and - in the Rhesus system)?
  • What happens if someone receives an incompatible blood type?
  • What was the first solid tissue to be successfully transplanted?
  • What kinds of organs can be donated from someone who is alive?
  • What are the molecules that the immune system uses to help identify which organs aren’t your own?

Reflective questions

To answer and record these questions you will need to have an account and be logged in.

Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

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Further reading