Welcome to the third enlightening post of Medicine Through Islamic History series By The Desert Rose,
The first doctor who identified how blood circulates around the body was Ibn Al-Nafis whom many thought it was William Harvey. He knew of the pulmonary circuit and that the body had blood vessels called capillaries.
His full name was Alladin Abu Al-Hasan Ali ibn Abu Al-Hazam Al-Qarshi near Damascus. He attended Al-Nuri hospital in Damascus for his education and training under Al-Dawkhar and then began to practice at Al-Nasiri Hospital in Cairo and Al-Mansouriya Hospital.
The pulmonary circuit consists of the blood enters the heart through the right atrium exiting the right ventricle where it is re-oxygenated by the lungs and passes through the left atrium and back into the body. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that the blood did not pass through the lungs.
Many researchers agreed that he was a prolific author who had distinguished authority on Medicine, Quran, Sunnah, philosophy, Islamic jurisprudence and the Arabic language. Amongst his books were the following:
Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb --> an encyclopaedia that comprised 300 volumes.
Mujaz al-Qanoon --> It consisted a number of commentaries on law especially on Hippocrates’.
Kitab Al-Mukhtar fi Aghda-eya --> A book on the effects of diet on health.
He also contradicted many of the previous medical findings on the heart and circulatory system such as Avicenna, Galen and Hippocrates
"...The blood from the right chamber of the heart must arrive at the left chamber but there is no direct pathway between them. The thick septum of the heart is not perforated and does not have visible pores as some people thought or invisible pores as Galen thought. The blood from the right chamber must flow through the vena arteriosa (pulmonary artery) to the lungs, spread through its substances, be mingled there with air, pass through the arteria venosa (pulmonary vein) to reach the left chamber of the heart and there form the vital spirit...”
"... Again his (Avicenna's) statement that the blood that is in the right side is to nourish the heart is not true at all, for the nourishment to the heart is from the blood that goes through the vessels that permeate the body of the heart..."
Ibn Taghra Bardi, Shamsul-Deen MH. Al-Nujum al-Zahirah fi Muluk Misr wa-‘l-Qahirah. Dar Al-Kutub Al-Elmeyyah, 1992, vol 7: p. 318.
Al-Maqrizi, AA. In: Att MA, editor. Al-Suluk Lima'rifat Duwal al-Muluk. Beirut: Manshorat Mohammad Ali Baidoon, 1997, vol. 2, p. 209.
Al-Yafeie. Mir'at al-Janan wa-Ibrat al-Yaqzan fi Ma'arifat Hawadith al-Zaman. Al-Warraq Net Online Heritage Library, p. 721.
Haddad, S.E. & Khairallah A.A. A Forgotten Chapter in the Circulation of the Blood. Ann Surg 1936; 104:1-8.
Sarton G. Introduction to the History of Science. Carnegie Institution of Washington. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Company; 1927-1931. Reprinted in New York: Robert E. Krieger, 1975, pp. 1099-1101.
Ziedan Y, Abdel-Qader M. "Introduction". In: Ziedan Y, Abdel-Qader M, editors. Ibn al-Nafis, Sharh Fusul Abuqrat. Beirut/Cairo, 1991, pp. 35-65.