Dr. Drew was an African-American surgeon who pioneered methods of storing blood plasma for transfusion as well as organized the first large-scale blood bank in the U.S. He made groundbreaking discoveries in the storage and processing of blood, as well as managed two of the largest blood banks during World War II.
Dr. Charles Drew was born on June 3, 1904 and died on April 1, 1950. Drew grew up in Washington, D.C. He showed great athletic abilities, and was well-rounded in many sports.
Drew received his Bachelor's Degree from Amherst in 1926. He worked as a biology instructor and coach for Morgan College in Baltimore. In 1928, Drew enrolled at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Drew was a top student. He won a prize in neuroanatomy and was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical honor society. Drew graduated in 1933 as the second in his class, earning both Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery degrees. He became an instructor at Howard University's medical school in 1935.
Drew received a Rockefeller Fellowship to study at Columbia University and train at the Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. He continued his exploration of blood-related matters. Drew developed a method for processing and preserving blood plasma (blood) without cells. Drew became the first African-American to earn his degree from Columbia.
Dr. Drew spearheaded blood-bank effort for the American Red Cross. He worked on developing a blood bank for the U.S. military. Drew grew frustrated with their request for segregating the blood donated by African-Americans. The military did not want to use blood from African-Americans, and determined that is was only to be used for other African Americans. The racist policy outraged Drew and he resigned.
Drew returned to Howard and served as a professor there, after creating the first two blood banks. He served as the head of the department of surgery at Howard and the chief surgeon at Freedman's Hospital. He became the first African-American examiner for the American Board of Surgery.
Drew was honored by the NAACP in 1943 with the Spingarn Medal for the highest and noblest achievement by an African-American.
Drew died in a vehicle crash at the age of 45. He left behind a wife and four children. Although his death was tragic, his life served much purpose. He has received many posthumous honors, including being featured in the USPS Great Americans stamp series, and has had many educational institutions and organizations named after him.
In 1974, the name of the East Palo Alto - East Menlo Park Neighborhood Health Center's name was changed to the Charles R. Drew Health Center in honor of the late Charles R. Drew. In 1982, the name was again changed to Drew Health Foundation, Inc which currently serves as a non-profit in East Palo Alto, CA.
"A life which crowds into a handful of years' significance, so great, men will never to be able to forget it." - Reverend Jerry Moore speaking about Charles R. Drew at his funeral.