Who Discovered Pulmonary Circulation, Ibn Al-Nafis or Harvey?

Sir William Harvey is wrongly credited with the modern theory of Pulmonary Circulation. Ibn Al-Nafis, an Arab physician of the 13th Century, explained the basic principles of Pulmonary Circulation nearly 350 years before Harvey was born.

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Ibn Al-Nafis (Ala al-Din Abu al-A'la Ali ibn Abi Hazm al-Quraishi) of Damascus, an Arab physician of the thirteenth century (1210-1288 CE), explained the basic principles of the modern theory of the lesser or PULMONARY circulation. This was nearly three hundred and fifty years before Sir William Harvey of Kent, England, who is wrongly credited with this discovery.

This fact was acknowledged in 1957 by Professor Dr J B Latham of the University of Manchester at the tercentenary of the death of William Harvey (Sunday Times 9 June 1957).

He also stated that Ibn Al-Nafis had "recognised the fallacy of Galen's theory of invisible channels between the ventricles.

He similarly explained that blood was purified in the lungs where it was refined on contact with the air inhaled from the outer atmosphere. "It should not be assumed too readily that great discoveries were made only in Europe." (The Statesman, Calcutta, 11 June 1957).

Ibn Al-Nafis was the chief physician at the Al-Mansuri Hospital, Cairo, Egypt, where he practised and taught medicine and Muslim theology until his death at the age of 77. He wrote a book "Sharh Tashrih al-Qanun" in which he expounded the pulmonary circulation for the first time. This commentary was consulted by Ibn Al-Quff, a great scientist and contemporary of Ibn Al-Nafis.

All scholarly standards and historical fairness should accredit Ibn Al-Nafis as being the first to discover and describe the Pulmonary Circulation.

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