Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: January 2020

  • First principles

    Charles G. KelsSan Antonio, Texas, United States The law of war is enshrined in treaties but steeped in blood. In 1859, a young Swiss businessman was traveling through Italy when a savage battle between French and Austrian forces commenced. Seeing “how many unfortunate men were left behind, lying helpless on the naked ground in their…

  • Blood relics and contemporary memory

    Robbie PorterWorcester, England In the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich there is an exhibit, carefully preserved in an environmentally conditioned case, which is amongst its most popular and venerated visitor attractions. It is the dress uniform of a rear-admiral in the Royal Navy, and is of the highest provenance. For this is the uniform Lord…

  • Bloody women

    M.K.K. Hague-YearlMontréal, Québec, Canada Sitting with little fanfare inside a twentieth-century red hardcover binding is a single leaf whose bibliographic record contains brackets of uncertainty: “[Calendar for Austria, 1496.] [Kaspar Hochfeder, Nürnberg? 1495.]” The catalogue offers only a basic description: “The woodcut occupying the whole lower portion depicts a zodiac man, two bloodletting scenes, a…

  • Blood and bone

    Sue StevensonMelbourne, Australia The compression socks assist with my low blood volume but they look terrible with my summer dress. Secondhand, $12 on eBay, a 1940s cut with flowers and cap sleeves. The compression socks remind me of ancient old ladies and while I am a year shy of half a century, I am still…

  • Defining donation

    Ahmad ShakeriHowsikan KugathasanToronto, Canada Money was tight in college for my roommate and me. I had a book buying habit and he frequented restaurants. Both of us were tutors but our financial strategies and our part time jobs were not the only things that united us. There was blood. Every few months, the American Red…

  • A case of toxic blood

    Shruthi DeivasigamaniPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States On a blustery winter day, a molecule of water condenses around a particle of dust in the air. The structure grows in size as it falls closer to earth, and before it hits the ground outside, it has crystallized into a perfect, six-sided snowflake. Miles away, a thirty-one-year-old woman is…

  • Ludwik Hirszfeld: The story of one life that changed thousands of others

    Paulina KowalińskaWrocław, Poland “To a far greater extent the group reactions have been used in forensic medicine for the purpose of establishing paternity. The possibility of arriving at decisions in such cases rests on the studies of the hereditary transmission of the blood groups; the principal factural results in this field we owe to the…

  • A history of blood: hysteria, taboos, and evil

    Danielle DalechekNorfolk, Virginia, United States “Who has fully realized that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood?”— Carl Jung Historically, the opposite of purity was often viewed and represented as evil. This was especially true if you happened to be a woman. Even the most chaste and abiding women…

  • Bloody beginnings of hematology

    Sherin Jose ChockattuBengaluru, India His pole, with pewter basins hung,Black, rotten teeth in order strung,Rang’d cups that in the window stood,Lin’d with red rags, to look like blood,Did well his threefold trade explain,Who shav’d, drew teeth, and breathd a vein – John Gay (The Goat Without a Beard, 1727) For over three millennia, self-taught physicians…

  • The sanctity of blood: Jehovah’s Witnesses and bloodless medicine

    Margo A. PeytonBaltimore, Maryland, United States Tammy said that her throat looked like that of a bullfrog croaking on an August night. At her local emergency room, her blood pressure was 240/40 mmHg due to profound aortic valve insufficiency complicated by an aortic aneurysm. Her condition necessitated high-risk cardiac surgery, a procedure that carries the…