Rhesus factor correspondence course

Spreading a major advance in hematology

Technical file

Innovation leader: Josep Antoni Grífols i Lucas

Year: 1953

Period: Postwar period (1940-1959)

Type of innovation: Service

Scope: Training

Patent: No

Geographical reach: National

Economic impact:  3-Low

Level of innovation:  2-Evolutionary

Interdisciplinary connections: -

Related innovations: Control sera and the ABO blood typing system, Hemoteca, Portal lamp for blood group determination

One of the many results of Josep Antoni Grífols i Lucas's restless energy was the groundbreaking correspondence course he launched in February 1953. 98 specialists in hematology and hemotherapy from all over Spain participated, and the project was heralded as an outstanding success in the profession.

The subject of the course was the Rh or Rhesus factor. An important element in determining the compatibility of blood types, understanding Rh and how to test for it was becoming essential knowledge for doctors. The Rh factor had been discovered in 1940 by the Austrian scientists Landsteiner and Wiener, whose work was a major step forward in improving the safety of blood transfusions.


Disseminating essential knowledge

Whether someone is Rh positive or Rh negative is determined by the presence or absence of the D antigen in the blood. Transfusing blood from a Rh-positive donor to a Rh-negative patient induces the formation of antibodies that attack it, binding the blood and clotting it, and thus being a danger to the recipient.

Dr. Grífols' course provided the equipment, as well as the written theory and practice of determining a patient's genotype, and the identification of antibodies via different methods.

This innovation highlights the commitment to sharing and disseminating scientific knowledge, and which would find fresh expression two years later with the creation of the bibliographical service called the Hemoteca.



Sharing knowledge through a pioneering and original correspondence course



  • Landsteiner, K., & Weiner, A. (1940). An Agglutinable Factor in Human Blood Recognized by Immune Sera for Rhesus Blood. Experimental Biology And Medicine, 43(1), 223.
  • Landsteiner K, & Wiener, A.S. (1941). Studies on an agglutinogen (Rh) in human blood reacting with anti-rhesus sera and with human isoantibodies. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 74(4), 309-320.
  • Grífols-Lucas, J.A. (1953). Curso práctico de Rh por correspondencia. Barcelona: Laboratorios Grífols.
  • Grífols-Lucas, V. (2009). Amb un suro i un cordill. Vivències d'un empresari de postguerra. Barcelona: Grífols Group, S.A.
  • Avellà, R., & Miquel, B. (Eds.). (2015). Cuando un sueño se cumple. Crónica ilustrada de 75 años de Grifols. Barcelona: Grupo Grifols S.A.