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Black Inventors and Innovators - Charles Drew

Updated on February 19, 2011


Charles Drew was born June 3, 1904 in WashingtonD.C. and died April 1, 1950 in Burlington, North Carolina. In his younger years Drew excelled at everything he did from academics to athletics.  Drew was an all around athlete competing in high school in swimming, football, baseball, basketball and track and field.  Drew won numerous medals and accolades in sports.

After high school Drew went to AmherstCollege and after graduation took a position at MorganState as the Athletic Director and a biology teacher. A few years later Drew enrolled at McGillUniversity in MontrealCanada to pursue his interest in medicine and graduated with Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine degrees. He would return to Washington D.C to work as an instructor of pathology at HowardUniversity.

After Howard University Drew worked as a resident and attended ColumbiaUniversityPresbyterianHospital, where he was the first Black to receive a Doctor of Medical Science degree and it was during this time that he started researching blood and blood transfusions.

Drew figured out a way to preserve blood for blood transfusions.  Normally blood could be kept refrigerated for two days.  Drew figured out that if the plasma was separated from the whole blood they could be refrigerated separately for up to a week and then combined later for transfusions. In addition Drew figured that some transfusions could be done with plasma only since everyone has the same plasma type but there are different blood types. With his findings Drew convinced Columbia University to establish a blood bank and Drew was soon asked to go to England to help set up that country’s first blood bank.

When World War II broke out Drew was named project director for the American Red Cross but quickly resigned after being told that blood taken from White donors should be segregated from that of Black donors.

In his later years Drew would return to HowardUniversity as the head of the Department of Surgery.  Drew would receive numerous awards, accolades and honorary degrees during this time. 

Charles Drew died when the car he was driving went out of control and turned over; there were three other doctors in the car with him at the time.  Drew was taken to a nearby all White hospital.  The legend surrounding Drew’s death was that he was refused a blood transfusion but the reality was that Drew was beyond help when he arrived and the hospital did everything they could to save him including giving him a blood transfusion. 

Charles Drew was an amazing person his discover has given millions a second chance at life and his persistence in the face of adversity is truly amazing.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you soneblom!

    • soneblom profile image

      soneblom 6 years ago from South Africa

      Good hub! enjoyable and interesting read... Thanks!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Luisette!

    • profile image

      Luisette 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this HUB. I loved it.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello! I am so happy that Dr Drew stood his ground on the separating of White and Black blood that just does not make sense!

      Bk - It is amazing that many do not know their blood type at all. It is something that everyone should know. Thanks for the comments.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      How interesting that Dr. Drew did bloodtyping all those years ago - but ask most Americans their blood type and not only do they not know - they were never told. It is simply ignored in US medicine.

      But it does matter. I am Blood type A positive and should never eat meat and I don't - as a result I am sure it is why I am not plagued with the diseases of other elders my age - my blood pressure has always been low, I have no diabetes, cataracts, heart disease, inflammations, etc. - all so-called getting old diseases which is just not true. If I ate meat, especially as much as the average American, I could not digest it like a blood type O - and my blood pressure would skyrocket.

      Thanks for another great hub. Rated up!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for giving the history of Charles Drew's life. A fine human being and what an insult to have black and white blood seperated after saving so many lives. I will never understand that.