Dr Charles Drew, Inventor of the blood bank

The research of this black man has marked, a turning point in the history of medicine. Dr. Drew enabled and still enables millions of people around the world to continue to live.

Charles Richard Drew was born in a Washington ghetto from a mixed race family, considered black according to the American definition. His father was a carpet-maker and his mother a teacher. At the age of 18 he entered a University in Massachusetts where he excelled in American football. He worked at Baltimore’s Morgan University as the Team Director and Biology Professor before being accepted to McGill University in Montreal. He ended second of his University batch with a degree of surgeon.

Charles Drew was a great sportsman. He is here in a basketball team.

Then, he taught medicine in Washington before obtaining his PHD in medical science from Columbia University in New York. He became the first African-American PHD holder in medicine from the prestigious University. His thesis on the creation of a blood bank, would revolutionize blood transfusion.

Previously the blood taken from one person to be transfused to another would perish after 2 days. In his dissertation titled Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation, Dr. Drew deeply analyzed the physical, chemical and biological factors that can alter blood preservation.

A separation method of plasma and pellet (both blood entities) and a series of measurements enabling the storage of the collected blood were provided by his research. Charles Drew made capable to store blood safely in refrigerators for a week, thus allowing transfusion on a large scale.

Dr. Scudder, a specialist in the field, describes the work of Charles Drew as “A monumental work and a guide for the creation of blood banks” [1].

Dr. Drew created the blood bank of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York and that of Columbia University. Called by the US authorities as an advisor during the Second World War, he convinced them to adopt his methods. He created the first blood bank in England where he sent units of blood for the London victims of Hitler’s bombings.

Dr. Charles Drew laid the foundation for preserving blood as we know it today.

Charles Drew’s contribution made a crucial impact during the Second World War in which he saved thousands of soldiers through blood transportation and the creation of banks in the American Red Cross. Many people bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor also owe him survival. Later, the American armed forces informed him that they no longer accept the blood of “colored people” for white soldiers. Dr. Drew, outraged, protested against the decision and was dismissed from his position of director of the Red Cross.

The Chicago newspaper The Defender echoed this story by writing “Negro blood is not accepted but when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and mutilated hundreds of US soldiers and marines, the blood that saved the lives of these was collected by a black surgeon “[2].

Charles Richard Drew was countlessly awarded for his achievements, particularly by the black lobby NAACP. Many medical centers in the United States and the center of the American Red Cross in Washington bear his name today. Charles Richard Drew died as a result of a serious road accident at 46 years old. Contrary to what is said, his death was not caused by denying him health care because of racism, since his family addressed a letter of appreciation to the medical team that had taken care of him.

Hotep !

By : Lisapo ya Kama ©

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