African American Hero of the Day

African American Almanac
ISBN: 9781578593231

What physician is credited with developing the life-saving techniques of separating blood plasma so that it might be better preserved for later use?

  • He studied at Amherst College, McGill University, and Columbia University.
  • His dissertation was on "banked blood."
  • He helped set up the first blood banks during World War II.
  • He died in a 1950 car accident. Ironically, he died from a loss of blood.

Charles R. Drew (1904-1950)

Physician, Blood Plasma Researcher

Born on June 3, 1904, in Washington, D.C., Charles Richard Drew graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he received the Messman Trophy for having brought the most honor to the school during his four years there. He was not only an outstanding scholar but the captain of the track team and a star halfback on the football team.

After receiving his medical degree from McGill University in 1933, Drew returned to Washington, D.C., to teach pathology at Howard University. In 1940, while taking his D.Sc. degree at Columbia University, he wrote a dissertation on "banked blood." Using techniques already developed for separating and preserving blood, Drew further explored the field of blood preservation and applied research procedures to clinical work. This led the British government to call upon him to set up the first blood banks just prior to World War II.

During World War II, Drew was appointed director of the American Red Cross blood donor project. Later, he served as chief surgeon at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C., as well as professor of surgery at Howard University Medical School from 1941 to 1950. He was killed in an automobile crash in 1950.

From African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage and Excellence by Lean'tin Bracks, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R). A wealth of milestones, inspiration, and challenges met . . .

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