THE CABINET

Microcentrifuge

Portable blood testing to enable safe transfusions anywhere

Technical file

Type of innovation: Device

Scope: Clinical Analysis

Innovation leader: Grifols i Lucas, Víctor

Year: 1968

Period: 1909-1971

Geographical scope: Spain

Economic impact: Low

Level of innovation: Evolutionary

Patent: No

Interdisciplinary connections: -

In the 1950s, once the ABO blood group system and the existence of the Rhesus factor had been established, the idea of systematic blood testing gained traction. A few years later, it became an indispensable and routine practice prior to any type of blood transfusion.

Centrifuging the test solution to separate out the coagulated element from the liquid fraction was a vital part of the testing procedure. At the time, home transfusions were still common in Spain, so the less bulky the equipment needed for testing, the better.

“Grifols manufactured some microcentrifuges that could be powered by the cigarette lighter socket of a car so that blood tests and cross-tests could be carried out in campaigns in Africa.”

The same job, but smaller

Realizing there was a need for a compact piece of equipment to do the job, Víctor Grifols i Lucas designed his microcentrifuge in 1968. As well as shrinking down its weight and footprint, the microcentrifuge had other practical features, such as a space for four hemolysis tubes. It was accompanied by templates that acted as a "recipe" to cross-test correctly and avoid errors.

Thanks to the commercial partnership with the American Hospital Supply Corporation, the equipment gained popularity outside Spain, too. In fact, at the request of UNESCO, Grifols manufactured some microcentrifuges that could be powered by the cigarette lighter socket of a car so that blood tests and cross-tests could be carried out in campaigns in Africa.

Bibliography

  • Gri-Cel, S.A. (1968). Aparatos científicos para control y análisis. [Sales brochure]. Barcelona: Gri-Cel, S.A. y Grupo American Hospital Supply Corporation.
  • Gri-Cel, S.A. (1971). Formularios de cumplimentación de análisis. [Sales brochure]. Barcelona: Gri-Cel, S.A. y Grupo American Hospital Supply Corporation.
  • Barbolla, L., & Contreras, E. (2002). Pruebas pretransfusionales: compatibilidad en transfusión. En L. Barbolla (Ed.), Manual práctico de medicina transfusional (pp. 71-83). Madrid: Acción Médica.
  • Grifols-Lucas, V. (2009). Amb un suro i un cordill. Vivències d'un empresari de postguerra. Barcelona: Grupo Grifols, S.A.
  • Grifols, S.A. (2011). ¿Y si lo hacemos así? Patentes de Víctor Grífols i Lucas. Barcelona: Grifols, S.A.
  • Bonilla-Zavala, R. (2005). Pruebas transfusionales. Revista Médica del Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, 43(1), 13-15.
  • Avellà, R., & Miquel, B. (Eds.). (2015). Cuando un sueño se cumple. Crónica ilustrada de 75 años de Grifols. Barcelona: Grupo Grifols, S.A.
  • Jimenez-Marco, T. (Ed.). (2015). Guía sobre la transfusión de componentes sanguíneos y derivados plasmáticos. Barcelona: Sociedad Española de Transfusión Sanguínea y Terapia Celular.