Charles Drew


Born: 3 June 1904
Died: 1 April 1950 (automobile crash)
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Best known as: The inventor of the blood bank

Dr. Charles Drew is the father of the modern blood bank. In 1940 he published a paper showing that when plasma is separated from the rest of human blood, it can be stored for much longer periods of time. This discovery allowed the creation of blood banks, where donated plasma could be kept until urgently needed. Drew became the medical director of the first Red Cross blood bank in 1941, and his discovery saved uncounted lives during World War II. Drew spent much of his later career teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C.,; he also became chief of staff and medical director at nearby Freedman's Hospital. He died after a 1950 car crash.

Extra credit:

Drew attended Dunbar High School and Amherst College, then medical school at Montreal’s McGill University… He made his blood discoveries while doing graduate research at Columbia University… Drew was an African-American, but contrary to popular rumor he did not bleed to death when a segregated Southern hospital refused to give him a transfusion after a car crash. He received timely treatment by white doctors, but died of the overwhelming injuries he suffered in the accident.

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