Blood restores life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It can be medicine and poison and a commodity pricier than oil. Each one of us has roughly 9 to 12 pints of it, yet many of us don’t know our blood type. It is common to us all, yet the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo and dangerous: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.
In Nine Pints, I explore blood inside and outside the body. I take you from ancient practices of bloodletting to modern efforts to create synthetic blood. I introduce Janet Vaughan, who set up the world’s first system of mass voluntary blood donation before the Blitz, and “Menstrual Man,” an unschooled Indian who has become globally renowned for inventing a low-cost sanitary pad machine. I meet trauma surgeons who are wondering whether the blood they use is the wrong kind. I explore why the US is still known as the “OPEC of plasma,” why people are still dying from contaminated blood products they received in the 1980s, and why HIV, far from being beaten, is now an epidemic of women.
Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals blood in an entirely new light.
Nine Pints: A journey through the money, medicine and mysteries of blood is the US edition.
Nine Pints: a journey through the miraculous, mysterious world of blood is the UK edition.