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Jadwiga Karnicki

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 27 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5166
  1. Marta Karnicki

Jadwiga Karnicki was conducting her antenatal clinic in Lewisham hospital when a pregnant rhesus negative patient, who had had a previous stillbirth from rhesus disease, showed her an article by William Liley on life saving intrauterine transfusions, and asked her why she couldn’t do the same. Mrs Karnicki considered this carefully and thought, why not indeed.

It was 1963, and many rhesus positive babies of rhesus negative mothers were dying in utero from severe haemolytic anaemia as a result of rhesus incompatibility. Liley in New Zealand had developed a technique for transfusing these babies in utero, and Jadwiga Karnicki successfully adapted his method—the first person in Europe to do so. Together with haematologist Cecil Holman she started intrauterine transfusions at Lewisham Hospital, with only very basic equipment to help them.

Urografin would be injected into the amniotic fluid at least six hours before transfusion, which the baby swallowed, and this …

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