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Dr. Charles R. Drew - mini bio

​Dr. Charles R. Drew - Mini bio

Dr. Charles Richard Drew

Dr. Charles Richard Drew

​Dr. Charles Richard Drew was a world renowned surgeon, medical scientist, educator and authority on the preservation of blood.  He was the pioneer of blood plasma preservation, leaving mankind an important legacy--the blood bank.

Born in 1904, in Washington, D.C., he was the eldest of five children born to Charles and Nora Drew.  He was an outstanding athlete.  Graduating from Dunbar High School, in 1922, he excelled in football, basketball, swimming, and track with much acclaim.  At Amherst College in Massachusetts, he was an achiever in both sports and academics, graduating in 1926 with high honors.  He went on to become an instructor of biology and chemistry, and Director of Athletics at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Charles Drew loved sports and was a tough competitor.  He could have become a professional athlete or coach, but his desire to become a doctor was stronger.  In 1928, Drew entered McGill University Medical School, in Montreal, Canada, and won membership in its Medical Honorary Society.  It was at McGill that he became interested in blood research.  He received his Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine degrees in 1933.

After internships at the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital, in Canada, he taught at Howard University's Medical.  Afterwards, at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City, he researched a process for blood preservation.  During his two years at Columbia, he developed a technique for the long-term preservation of blood plasma.  He earned the Doctor of Science in Medicine degree in 1940, with a dissertation on "Banked Blood."

In World War ​II, England suffered heavy casualties and called upon Dr. Drew to initiate its military blood bank program.  There he introduced preserved blood plasma on the battlefield.  This system worked so well that the British asked him to organize the world's first mass blood bank project.  Dr. Drew also became the first Director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank.

Also during the 1940's, Dr. Drew received scores of awards and honors, and was recognized as one of the world's leading physicians.  In 1941, Dr. Drew resigned his position with the AMRC blood bank after the War Department sent out a directive stating that blood taken from White donors should not be mixed with that of Black donors.  This issue caused widespread controversy.  Drew called the order a stupid blunder.  He further stated that "the blood of individual human beings may differ by blood groupings, but there is absolutely no scientific basis to indicate any difference in human blood from race to race."  He returned to Howard University to teach surgery at its medical school.

Dr. Drew was killed in an automobile accident while on a trip to a medical meeting at Tuskegee Institute in 1950.  The irony of his death is that his life may have been saved if he had received immediate medical attention following the accident.  Discrimination at nearby White hospitals did Not allow him the blood transfusions needed to save his own life.

Every blood bank in the world is a living memorial to the genius of Dr. Charles Richard Drew.  His name will live on forever in medical history.  Schools and health clinics throughout the United States have been named in honor of Drew and his ingenious gift to mankind.

Excerpt from A Salute to Black Scientists and Inventors.

This is only a summary of Dr. Charles Richard Drew.