WHAT HE INVENTED
A blood transfusion process and clinic
Bogdanov is better remembered as an influential turn of the century Russian Marxist and a key figure in the early Bolshevik movement. (He was ousted because some of his more far-out theories – like a universal application of Marxist philosophy that extended to the sciences – were seen as too extreme by Vladimir Lenin.) But he was also a physician, a philosopher, an economist and a science-fiction writer. Remember, there wasn’t Netflix back then. You could get more done.
During his political exile, Bogdanov became fixated on the idea that human beings could be rejuvenated, or even become immortal, through the use of blood transfusions. (He even connected this with Socialist ideology. Essentially, the people would all share youthful, healthy blood, which would keep the entire nation young and vibrant.) Hey, if Stan Lee had come up with this, you’d all be giving him an award or something…
After Lenin’s death, Bogdanov convinced Stalin to help fund his blood transfusion experiments, and in 1926, he founded the world’s first clinic and institute for blood transfusions – the Institute for Hemotology and Blood Transfusions – in Moscow. (Fun side note: The clinic shared a building with another government-funded lab dedicated to studying Lenin’s brain. I smell a sitcom!)
Even though a lot of Bogdanov’s theories turned out to be kind of crackpot, the center itself lived on and eventually led to the first Soviet efforts to create a centralized blood bank system.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
Bogdanov gave himself 11 blood transfusions at his clinic, and at first, everything seemed to be going A-OK. He believed the fresh blood was stemming hair loss, improving his vision, and just generally making him look younger and feel more energetic.
Then, in 1928, Bogdanov swapped blood with a student suffering from malaria and tuberculosis, suffered a hemolytic transfusion reaction and died. (Back then, they didn’t really understand things like blood types and compatability. Cause, I mean, it’s just BLOOD, right? It’s not like it’s an important thing that comes from inside of you that you shouldn’t trade with strangers like so many sack lunch baggies filled with celery and carrots.)