Dr. Charles Drew (June 3, 1904 -April 1950) was an American surgeon and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions and improved techniques for blood storage. He developed large-scale blood banks in early World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces, according to Wikipedia. To protest the practice of racial segregation of donation of blood, Drew resigned his position with the American Red Cross, which continued the practice until 1950. Drew attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
He graduated second in his class and received a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degree. He was appointed faculty instructor at Howard University in pathology from 1935-36. Then he joined the Freedman’s Hospital as an instructor in surgery and assistant surgeon.
He continued his studies and earned a Doctor in Science in Surgery at Columbia University, in New York. In 1940, he became the first African American to earn a Doctor of Science in Medicine, but he was not allowed to join the American Medical Association. He died never being accepted as a member, according to Wikipedia. Drew develop the program for blood storage and preservation, which collected, tested, and transported large quantities of blood plasma for distribution in the United Kingdom.
He was the medical director of the United States’ Blood for Britain project during World War II. He started bloodmobiles, trucks that transported refrigerated stored blood. He established a central location for blood collection, testing and how to handle blood plasma to avoid contamination. The Blood Transfusion Betterment Association applauded his work. In 1941, he was selected the first African American to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.
That same year his was appointed the first American Red Cross Blood Bank director. He was in charge of the blood used by the U.S. Army and Navy; he disagreed with the exclusion of African American blood in the plasma-supply networks. The armed forces ruled the blood of Black soldiers would be accepted but stored separately. Drew resigned. He returned to the Freedman’s Hospital and Howard University as a surgeon. He died in a fatal car crash on his way to Tuskegee, Alabama with three other Black doctors to annual free clinic work at John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital.
Charles Drew has multiple parks, schools and a Navy ship named after him.