Every two seconds, someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion.
And it is in large part thanks to the pioneering research of Dr.
As you know, there is no scientific basis for the separation of the bloods of different races except on the basis of the individual blood types or groups.” Drew spent the rest of his career as a professor at Howard and the chief of surgery at its Freedmen’s Hospital, training and mentoring African-American surgeons, petitioning medical organizations for equal admission regardless of race, and speaking out against the Red Cross’ discriminatory donation practices.
He was awarded the NAACP’s esteemed Spingarn Medal in 1944 for “the highest and noblest achievement in the preceding year or years” for his plasma collection and distribution efforts. Charles Drew succumbed to his injuries following a car accident in 1950, the same year the American Red Cross ended its policy to segregate blood.
Drew stayed in Canada for his internship and residency at Mc Gill’s Royal Victoria Hospital and Montreal General Hospital, examining issues related to blood transfusions.
He returned to the US in 1935 as an instructor at Howard University’s College of Medicine before receiving a Rockefeller Fellowship at Columbia University in 1938.His research served as the basis of his doctorate thesis, “Banked Blood,” and he received his doctorate degree in 1940.Drew became the first African-American to earn this degree from Columbia.This revelation became the basis of the doctorate thesis he wrote in 1939 while Europe was sliding into war and America was two years away from joining it. Drew’s innovation was put to use in 1940 as World War II rampaged through Europe.In combat situations, plasma is used as transfusion support to treat shock and replace lost fluids, and Drew’s expertise made him the perfect leader of Blood for Britain, the world’s first large-scale blood drive and a relief effort run by the American Red Cross to collect plasma in the US and ship it to Britain to aid injured British soldiers.This revolutionary discovery created a product that could be stored for two months instead of the one week that whole blood remained viable at the time, and would prove life-saving during the impending war. Drew was ineligible to donate blood, even after he became manager of Presbyterian Hospital’s blood supply and later, managed America’s Blood for Britain program.The racial obstacles he faced led him to carve out another legacy for himself – a racial one – and as the first African-American to become a member of the American Board of Surgery, he became outspoken about the racial practices common in medicine at the time.But there was a problem: only two medical schools in the United States accepted African-American students.Howard University rejected him, and Harvard deferred him for a year, so he took his dream of becoming a physician to Montreal’s Mc Gill University, where he graduated in 1933, second in his class, with a Doctor of Medicine and a Master of Surgery.It was during his time at Columbia that Drew developed his pioneering method to isolate and preserve blood plasma by separating it from the other blood components, allowing scientists to stabilize and freeze it for up to two months.This was a seismic breakthrough in hematology; at the time, there was no refined method to separate blood into components and whole blood’s shelf life was only one week.