Coming from an experimental medical family, Stoker was aware of cutting-edge surgical technology. It is believed he conferred with his brothers for his research (2): Dr. George Stoker was a medical innovator and inventor (3), and Sir Thornley Stoker was the chair of anatomy at the School of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a vivisection inspector (4). Both were familiar with transfusion technology.
Although “the blood is the life” (5, Chapter 11), it is also the death. Today, transfusions are considered a relatively safe procedure, but before the discovery of blood typing (6), it was a terrible gamble and performed only when all other measures had failed (6). Mixing incompatible blood can result in a fatal reaction where the blood clumps in the recipient (7). Therefore, the use of transfusions in Dracula enhances the suspense and horror.
In 1873, Sir Thomas Smith performed the first successful transfusion of defibrinated (declotted) blood (8). This subsequently became a favoured safeguard, and is referenced and dismissed when Van Helsing says, “we need not defribinate” (5, Chapter 10). In this way, he experiments with an already experimental science.
In the words of Van Helsing, “We have on our side power of combination—a power denied to the vampire kind; we have resources of science” (5, Chapter 18). The use of blood technology makes Dracula speculative science fiction.
2. Senf, Carol A. Science and Social Science in Bram Stoker's Fiction. 2002. Praeger, Pg 22
4. Miles, Jennifer. “Healing or Horrifying? Portrayals of Victorian Medicine in Bram Stoker's Dracula.” Journal of Dracula Studies, no. 14, 2012. Pg 19
5. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. http://www.literature.org/authors/stoke