Charles Richard Drew was a famous American physician, surgeon and medical researcher, who is still remembered for his outstanding innovations and researches on blood transfusions. His innovative techniques for better blood storage and researches in blood transfusion helped saving several lives during the World War II. His innovations revolutionized the medical profession and inspired many medical aspirants to follow his path. He was the director of ‘Blood for Britain’, the first blood bank project organized in the year 1940 to help British civilians and soldiers. He also served as director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank, which was established by him. Though he had an untimely death at the age of 46, his contributions had significant impact in the field of medicine, and provided a strong base for the rest of the research in similar lines. Rightly referred to as the ‘Father of the blood bank’, this outstanding personality played a major role in organizing, conceiving and directing the first blood banking program in the history of America. Read further to know more about Charles Richard Drew.
Charles R. Drew was born to Richard, a carpet layer and Nora, a school teacher, in Washington, D.C., on 3 June 1904. Young Drew, with his exceptional talents and skills, geared towards excellence both in academics and athletics. He was the first African-American to graduate from Amherst College. After graduation, he wished to pursued medicine but, his financial background stopped him from joining a medical school immediately after his graduation. However, he decided to earn money to continue his studies. For this, he worked as a biology teacher in at the Morgan State University,Baltimore. He continued in this position for two years and also served as athletic director there. His hard work and dedication paid, and he got an opportunity to join a medical school at the McGill University Montreal, Canada, in 1928. As per his interests, he focused on studies and researches on blood. In the year 1933, he graduated with both Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degrees. He did his internship and residency Montreal general Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital respectively.
Dr. Drew returned to United States and became a pathology trainer at the famous Howard University, and also got a chance to do his surgery internship at the Freedmen's Hospital. He had also served at the Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital, where he began researches on blood and its transfusions. This led him to acquire the Doctor of Medical Science degree in the year 1940. Under the guidance of John Scudder, he presented a thesis ‘Banked Blood’. In the same year, the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association in New York appointed Drew as the Director of the ‘Blood for Britain’ project.
Outbreak of World War II
During the Second World War, Dr. Drew was appointed as the project director for the ‘Blood for Britain’ project. The U.S War Department wanted the blood of the white donors to be separated from those of the black and Dr. Drew criticized this. This was the time when Dr. Drew also experienced the ugly phase of racism, which was very much prevalent during that time. He returned back to Howard University in the year 1942 and served the position of Chief of staff and medical Director at the Freedmen’s Hospital. He was also given the role as the examiner for the American Board of Surgery. There he was recognized for his brilliance, and also received numerous honors for his work.
Dr. Drew’s works had remained notable over the course of time and he published 19 papers among which the first 13 focused on blood therapy. He also excelled as a great speaker, covering wide spectrums of interests such as setting up the 12th street branch of the YMCA in Washington.
Personal Life And Death
Drew got married to Minnie Lenore on 23 September1939 and they together raised their four children. Unfortunately, he met with an accident and had an untimely death. While he was travelling with three associates to Andrew Memorial Clinic of Tuskegee Institute in 1950, where he was supposed to give a speech, the car crashed as he fell asleep. There were rumors spread across the nation about his death that his death resulted as a white hospital refused to admit him. However, it was proved wrong as Dr. drew was received timely treatment but, his injury was too deep and he died. He bid goodbye to the world on 1 April 1950.
Charles. R. Drew’s achievements were indeed recognized and appreciated. He received several honors such as the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP (1943), and two honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the Amherst College (1947) and the Virginia State College (1945) respectively.