Cover image for Nine pints : a journey through the money, medicine, and mysteries of blood
Nine pints : a journey through the money, medicine, and mysteries of blood
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company, 2018.
Physical Description:
353 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
My pint -- That most singular and valuable reptile -- Janet and Percy -- Blood borne -- The yellow stuff -- Rotting pickles -- Nasty cloths -- Code red -- Blood like Guinness : the future.
Explores the science, traditions, and myths surrounding blood, from ancient bloodletting practices to the development of mass blood donations during the Blitz and from researchers working on synthetic blood to the lucrative business of plasma transfusions.
Subject Term:


Material Type
Call Number
Book 612.11 Georg
Book 612.11 Georg

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An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science

Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don't even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.

Rose George, author of The Big Necessity , is renowned for her intrepid work on topics that are invisible but vitally important. In Nine Pints , she takes us from ancient practices of bloodletting to the breakthough of the "liquid biopsy," which promises to diagnose cancer and other diseases with a simple blood test. She introduces Janet Vaughan, who set up the world's first system of mass blood donation during the Blitz, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as "Menstrual Man" for his work on sanitary pads for developing countries. She probes the lucrative business of plasma transfusions, in which the US is known as the "OPEC of plasma." And she looks to the future, as researchers seek to bring synthetic blood to a hospital near you.

Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals our life's blood in an entirely new light.

Author Notes

Rose George is the author of The Big Necessity and Ninety Percent of Everything . A freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times , Slate , and the Financial Times , among other publications. She lives in Yorkshire.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist George (Ninety Percent of Everything) offers an insightful, fast-paced account of the science, politics, and social history of blood. By visiting places that include a donation center in India and a leech farm in Wales (which, after a 2007 terrorist attack in London, supplied hospitals with leeches used in reconstructive surgery), she explores the fragility of the international blood supply. She writes poignantly about blood-borne viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Zika, and about the difficulty of ensuring that donated blood is safe, as underscored by tainted blood scandals in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1970s and in Canada as recently as 2013. Taboos associated with blood are vividly reported in Nepal, where George interviews young women banned from their homes and forced to sleep in sheds while menstruating, and in India, where she tells the intriguing story of engineer and entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose development and successful marketing of a "low-cost mini sanitary napkin manufacturing machine" began with his wearing a goat-blood-filled fake uterus made from a football. Noting that "every three seconds, somewhere in the world, a person receives a stranger's blood," this wide-reaching, lively survey makes clear that blood has become a "commodity that is dearer than oil." (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Blood is feared and revered, and it is continually dying and renewing. Its power is mystical, emotional, and biological. Blood infuses our language: bloodthirsty, blood-chilling, blood brothers. George (Ninety Percent of Everything, 2013) delivers an informative, elegant, and provocative exploration of the life-giving substance she describes as ""stardust and the sea"" for its iron content derived from the demise of supernovas and its water and salt from the oceans of our origin. In the stellar opening chapter, she fuses her personal experience donating blood with remarkable hematologic facts. Approximately five liters of the fluid (depending on your sex and size), containing 30 trillion red-blood cells, clotting factors, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate, travel 12,000 miles throughout your body daily at a speed of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Other chapters consider medicinal leeches (bloodsuckers that secrete their own anticoagulant and anesthetic compounds), hemorrhage, HIV, the history of blood transfusion and blood banks, menstruation, the feminine-hygiene industry (a typical woman in an industrialized nation uses an estimated 11,000-16,000 sanitary products during her lifetime), and future possibilities of synthetic blood. George also writes about plasma, possible contamination of the supply, and profit, noting that blood is the thirteenth most traded product globally. George's wondrously well-written work makes for bloody good reading!--Tony Miksanek Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Be prepared to get angry. Not at this book or author George (The Big Necessity), who does an excellent job with the topic, but with the economic and social injustices surrounding blood; injustices that have a particularly high impact on women. Chapters on AIDS in South Africa and how it disproportionately affects young girls and menstruation taboos in Nepal are discouraging, but what is truly rage inducing is the evidence of how little research time and money goes to "women's issues" such as menstruation and PMS, especially in comparison to funds spent on erectile dysfunction. Other chapters focus on comparatively mild -topics -including blood donation and leeches. There are some disheartening statistics about how poor people are often exploited for their blood and how big pharma profits from freely given (or paid) donations. Regrettably, there is no call to action, though it does end on a hopeful note. VERDICT Recommended for nonexperts curious about their own bodies and blood as commodity in the world economy.-Cate Schneiderman, Emerson Coll., Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 My Pintp. 1
2 That Most Singular and Valuable Reptilep. 27
3 Janet and Percyp. 59
4 Blood Bornep. 99
5 The Yellow Stuffp. 133
6 Rotting Picklesp. 167
7 Nasty Clothsp. 201
8 Code Redp. 241
9 Blood Like Guinness: The Futurep. 263
Notesp. 289
Further Readingp. 332
Acknowledgmentsp. 334
Indexp. 337