How Medical Breakthroughs Were Discovered Without Animal Experimentation
An Animal Rights Article from


PRISM, People for Reason in Science and Medicine
May 2010

HYPOTHERMIA (cooling the body before surgery)

In 1757 direct observation of persons exposed to cold for long periods showed that they could survive and was written about by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. A drunken Swede was nearly buried alive but survived. In 1798 Dr. James Currie had human volunteers take prolonged baths in cold water. He discovered that their heart rate was reduced. This information is now used to reduce the heart rate in patients before surgery.

POSITIVE PRESSURE VENTILATION (blowing air into the lungs during surgery)

Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbrach created positive pressure ventilation to keep the lungs from collapsing during surgery but withdrew the technique when it proved harmful to animals. In 1891 American surgeon George Fell decided to use it anyway and used it successfully.


Dr. Jack Gibbon tested it on cats, then humans. The humans died. Then other doctors perfected it while using it on human patients. Dr. Anthony Andreason created the low flow theory – that less blood would have to be used than the amount in the body by observing that war injured soldiers could survive on less blood than originally thought.


Grew out of ventricular septal defect surgery. To prevent deaths during heart surgery due to stoppage of electrical activity the pacemaker was developed to keep the electrical activity going and to keep the heart from giving out.


The cage ball valve was almost withheld from human patients because it killed dogs in the lab. Drs. A. Starr and L. Edwards found that it worked on humans even though it killed dogs.


In 1667 Jean Dennis, physician to Louis the 14th, transfused blood from animals to humans and killed people. Blood typing was discovered by an American scientist without animal experiments and that led to successful blood transfusions.

CARDIAC CATHERIZATION (for diagnostic purposes)

First used by Dr. Forsmann on himself. He put a catheter through his own arm and advanced the tip to his heart, observing it through a fluoroscope.


In 1961, in France, Dr. Kunlin used a portion of a person’s vein to replace obstructed segments. This gave birth to bypass surgery for different parts of the body.

CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS (used to treat high blood pressure)

It was discovered to lower the blood pressure when given to patients to reduce heart pain (angina).



C. Walton Lillehei developed it through learning what happened to patients during surgery when the heart lung machine was used and complications arose. He decided to use the disposable sheet oxygenator so that blood would not become contaminated.

ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS (used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is put into it)

Was developed to stop milk from foaming and adapted to use in open heart surgery.

COARCTATION OF THE AORTA (twisting of the aorta that prevented blood flow)

Clarence Crafford put a clamp on the ruptured aorta and discovered that he could still perform surgery on the aorta without the patient dying. He discovered this by accident on a patient.

MITRAL STENOSIS (defective heart valve)

Dr. Henry S. Souttar, London Hospital, 1925, put his forefinger through the heart’s mitral valve and widened it. In 1949 Dr. Dwight E. Harking decided to use that same technique which is called finger fracture angioplasty.

BLUE BABIES (Fallot’s Tetrology – Four heart defects that lead to blue baby syndrome)

Dr. R. C. Brock of Guy’s Hospital developed a technique of surgery to overcome this problem without any animal experiments (British Medical Journal 6/12/48). Another technique was developed by British surgeons N. R. Barrett and Raymond Daley of St. Thomas Hospital (British Medical Journal 4/23/49).


Kouwenhoven, Jude and Knickerbocker devised this technique through practice on cadavers.


Dr. Paul Zoll used this technique (electric shock) as early as 1956.


Brown and Mac Millan, Toronto, began investigating arrhythmia disorders directly on patients. Converted an old encephalogram to an electrocardiogram to monitor heart rhythm disorders.



The Ebers Papyrus was written in 1550 B.C. and includes an accurate description of the circulatory system depicting the existence of blood vessels through the entire body and the heart functioning as the center of the blood supply.


In 1240 Ibn Al Nafis discovered pulmonary circulation (the circulation between the heart and lungs). He had performed dissections on cadavers from cemeteries. He proved that blood circulates from the right side of the heart to the lungs where it is aerated (filled with air) before reaching the left side of the heart.


Through his animal experiments he deduced that the blood ebbs and flows like the tide. He misled anatomists and physiologists for eleven centuries by his erroneous conclusions from his animal experiments.


He finished Abn Al Nafis’ work (1570-1657). He used his own arm by tying it off and noticing on which side the blood accumulated. He also poured water into a corpse’s heart to determine where it would flow. He discovered, as Abn Al Nafis had thousands of years before him, how the blood circulates --- without doing animal experiments.


Dr. Thomas Lewis, Great Britain --- “The most essential information, the profound effects which digitalis is capable of exerting in auricular fibrillation could not have been won through observation on the frog or normal mammal but only, as it was won, by observation on patients.”


Dogs’ coronary arteries differ from humans. They have smaller connections with one another and the left coronary artery dominates while in the human the right artery dominates. In addition, the conduction system has a different pattern of blood supply. Hence, visectors have difficulty in producing ischemic heart disease in dogs (cutting off the blood supply to the heart). Dogs’ blood coagulates differently from humans. Their reaction to shock is different. After massive blood loss, a dog’s intestines are congested while in the human we see pallor and ischemia (lack of blood supply).


Practice surgery on animals has been illegal in Great Britain since 1876 – yet their surgeons are just as good as ours.


Ether was discovered by Valerius Cordus in 1540 when he mixed alcohol and sulphuric acid. At that time it was called “sweet oil of vitriol”. Medical students used to use ether to get high in “ether frolics”. Dr. Crawford Long, a surgeon, noticed that people with bruises who had taken ether were insensitive to pain. He tried it on a patient during surgery.


“The study of humans is the only sure way to unveil the mysteries of humankind to find cures for human ailments and to prevent suffering. Strict ethical standards, compassion and ‘reverence for life’ must guide every step on the road.”

“Animal models differ from their human counterparts. Conclusions drawn from animal research when applied to human disease are likely to delay progress and mislead and harm the patient.”

“Animal experimentation inevitably leads to human experimentation.”

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