Charles Richard Drew was an African-American medical researcher and surgeon. He did research in the field of blood transfusions and came up with upgraded techniques for blood storage. Furthermore, he applied his professional knowledge in a bid to develop large-scale blood banks in World War II. This allowed medicals to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.
As the most important African American in the field, the doctor made great impact and stood for a cause. He protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood and said it lacked scientific foundation. Even after he resigned his position with the American Red Cross, they maintained the policy for a very long time.
Charles Richard early life and education
Charles Drew was born on the 3rd of June 1904 in Washington D.C. His father was a carpet layer and his mother was trained as a teacher. In 1922, Drew graduated from Washington’s Dunbar High School.
In 1926, he graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts where he won an athletic scholarship. Drew was as an off-campus member when he joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. After Drew finished from college, he spent two years as a professor of Chemistry and Biology.
He worked as an Athletic Director and football coach at Morgan College. This was a black private school in Maryland. He worked there in order to earn money to pay for medical school.
The surgeon attended McGill University in Canada to study medicine and there he achieved membership in Alpha Omega Alpha. This society was a scholastic honor society for medical students. He was ranked second in his graduating class of one hundred and twenty-seven students. And in 1933, McGill University awarded him the “Standard Doctor of Medicine” and “Master of Surgery” degree.
Several years later, the doctor did graduate work at Columbia University. From there, he earned a “Doctor of Science in Medicine degree” in 1940. This made him the first African American to achieve this.
Charles Richard academic career
In 1941, he became the first African-American surgeon selected to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery. He later had lengthy research, teaching career and eventually became a chief surgeon.
Blood for Britain
In the late 1940s, just after Drew got his doctorate, he was hired by John Scudder. Scudder wanted him to assist in setting up an early program for blood storage and preservation. His job was to collect, test, and transport large quantities of blood plasma for distribution in the United Kingdom.
Later on, the doctor went to New York City as the medical director of the United States’ Blood for Britain project. The project was aimed at helping British soldiers and civilians get U.S. blood to the United Kingdom.
He later started “Bloodmobiles” – these were trucks that contained refrigerators of stored blood. These bloodmobiles made it easier to transport blood as well as increase the possibilities of prospective donations.
Drew created a crucial position for the blood collection process where donors could go to give blood. He made sure all blood plasma was tested before being transported out. He also ensured that only skilled personnel handled them to avoid contamination. The project operated successfully for five months. During this time, almost fifteen thousand people donated blood and over five thousand vials of blood plasma were donated.
As a result of the success, the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association applauded Drew for his work. In addition, the American Red Cross Blood Bank came about as a result of Drew’s work.
Charles Richard Marriage
In 1939, Drew married Minnie Robbins in 1939. They had a son and three daughters.
Charles Richard Death
On the 1st of April 1950, Drew was driving around 8a.m; three other black physicians were also with him. Somehow, he lost control of the vehicle as he was still tired from spending the previous night in the operating theater. The car somersaulted three times after he careened into a field. The three physicians suffered slight injuries but drew was stuck with severe wounds. His foot had compressed under the brake pedal. He was already in shock and barely alive by the time he was reached by emergency technicians.
Drew was taken to Alamance General Hospital in North Carolina and was pronounced dead thirty minutes after he first received medical attention.
The Doctor’s funeral was held on the 5th of April 5, 1950, at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington D.C.
Charles Richard Legacy
In 1976, the Charles Richard Drew House in Arlington County, Virginia, was designated by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark. This was in response to a nomination by the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation.
In a bid to honor drew, the United States Postal Service issued a 35¢ postage stamp in its Great Americans series in 1981.
Also, “Charles Richard Drew Memorial Bridge”, which covers the Edgewood and Brookland neighborhoods in Washington, D.C was built in his honor.
A scholar, MolefiKete Asante, listed Drew as one of the hundred Greatest African Americans in 2002.
Numerous schools, health-related facilities, and other institutions were also named in honor of Dr. Drew. Few of them are mentioned below:
The Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School was incorporated in California and was named in his honor in 1966. It was later changed to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and is situated at Michigan.
“Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School” at Maryland.
“Charles Drew Premedical Society” at Columbia University.
‘Charles R Drew Wellness Center’ in Columbia.
‘Charles Drew Health Center’ at Omaha.
‘Charles Drew Science Enrichment Laboratory’ at Michigan State University.
“Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School” at New Orleans.
‘Charles R. Drew Junior High School’ at Michigan.