Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950)

Early Life
The great African American physician and researcher, Dr. Charles R.
Dr. Charles R. Drew
Drew, was born June 3, 1904 to Richard and Nora Drew. Charles was the eldest of five siblings. He attended Meads Mill Elementary School and worked as a paperboy delivering copies of the Washington Times-Herald while attending school. Later in 1918, he enrolled at Dunbar High School, a racially segregated school known to be one of the strongest black public schools in the country. Drew excelled in high school athletics and won the “James E. Walker” award for his achievements in swimming, football, baseball, basketball and track. He received a partial scholarship to Amherst College and was captain of the track team and started as a halfback on the football team.
After graduation from Amherst, Drew took a position at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He taught biology, and was also the school's athletic director. He was at Morgan State University for only two years before he decided to puruse his interest in medicine.

Pursuing Medicine
Drew studied at three universities
In 1928, Drew enrolled in medical and pharmaceutical classes at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He was a member of the Medical Honorary Society at the university, and upon graduation in 1933, he earned Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine Degrees. He ranked second in his class of 127 students. He stayed in Montreal for a period of time after, where he interned at Montreal General Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital. He returned back home to Washington D.C in 1935, and became the instructor of pathology at Howard University. At the time, he was a resident at Freedman's Hospital in Washington D.C.
Drew doing interactive medical research

Not long after his short stay in Washington D.C, Drew spent two years in New York at Columbia University. Drew chose to take more medical classes to further his knowledge. Like in Washington, Drew spent his free time working as a resident at the Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital. At the hopsital, he took an interest in blood and blood transfusions.

Creating Blood Banks
At Columbia, Drew began researching blood transfusions. His discoveries helped in the creation
American Red Cross Recruiting Poster WWII
of America's first blood bank. Prior to his discoveries, blood could only last in storage for about two days before blood cells began to break down. Drew discovered that if you seperated the plasma from the whole blood and refrigerate each seperately, they could last in storage for about a week. Drew also found that everyone has a different blood type (A, B, AB, or O), which limits the transfusions any individual person can get. However, everyone has the same plasma.

Becoming a Legend
​During World War II, Drew was named supervisor of the Blood Transfusi
A color portrait of Dr. Drew
on Association of New York City. He oversaw the organization's effort to develop a British blood bank. He was later named project director of the American Red Cross. Drew resigned not long after when the United States War Department stated that blood from White donors and blood from Black donors must be segregated. In 1942, Drew returned to Howard University to head the department of surgery, and became the Chief of Staff and Medical Director at Freedman's Hospital.

The Charles Richard Drew Memorial Bridge

On April 1, 1950, Drew was involved in a fatal car accident. A blood transfusion was performed on Drew, but his injuries were too severe for the transfusion to work effectively. He left behind a wive and four children. We can thank legendary Dr. Charles R. Drew for the discovery and creation of modern blood preservation techniques and the first American blood bank in history.

Awards & Degrees
  • James E. Walker: All-Around Athlete Award (Dunbar High School)
  • Thomas W. Ashley and Howard Hill Mossman Trophies (Amherst College)
  • Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine (McGill University)
  • Rockefeller Foundation Research Fellowship Award
  • Doctor of Medical Science (Columbia University)
  • Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Mary Eaton & Kevin DiMambro