Rhesus Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn
"In a predominantly white community, incompatibility between a mother with Rh-negative (Rh - ve) blood group and her baby with Rh+positive (Rh + ve) blood group affected about 1 in 120 pregnancies, of which 50% of the live born babies died, contributing to 4.2 deaths of 1,000 births.  The infant's Rh + ve blood cells, having entered the mother, sensitized her so that she produced Rh + antibodies that crossed the placenta and destroyed her infant's blood." (p. 69)

Dr. Jim Jamieson

"Jack Bowman had a vision that the blood plasma should be fractionated in Manitoba to provide a highly value-added product and employ highly trained students and scientists.  Rather than just ship raw plasma to the Connaught Laboratory in Toronto, he succinctly put it of the Winnipeg Rh Program, 'We must be more than hewers of wood and carriers of water.'  He had the goal of developing a new method of preparing the anti-Rh immunoglobulin locally.  In 1970, Jack Bowman and Bruce Chown asked Dr. Jim Jamieson of the Department of Chemistry to help with the development of a fractionation unit based on a technique developed by Hans Hoppe in Hamburg.  The procedure was referred to as column fractionation and depended on the use of a new product on the market (DEAE-Sephadex)." (p. 72) 

"Funding was provided to send Jamieson to Hans Hoppe, as well as a similar unit in Ireland.  With this experience, Jamieson concluded that a made-in-Canada fractionation unit could be replicated in Winnipeg.  It ws decided the best way forward was to build a laboratory on land on the Fort Garry Campus of the University of Manitoba to have it close to the Department of Chemistry, student help, and the library."  (p. 72)

"Perhaps in no other place has there been such a continuity in the persuit of Rh research and the application of all developments in the treatment and prevention of the disease for the benefit of the community.  From the 1940s to the 1990s in Manitoba, population 1 million, perinatal mortality due to Rh incompatibility dropped from 100 per year to one every 3 years." (p.75)


Warren, P., Jamieson, J.C. (2010).  Jack Bowman: Winnipeg's Contributuions to the Treatment and prevention of Rhesus and Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn.  Transfusion Medicine Reviews, 24 (1) 68-76.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, PC80 A83-052 005 236:21)