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 Charles Drew

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Ali Alkatiri
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PostSubject: Charles Drew   Sun May 30, 2010 8:35 pm

Charles Drew (1904 - 1950)



Charles Richard Drew was born in Washington DC on June 3, 1904 to Richard and Nora Drew. He attended Amherst College, where he became an all-American football player. Amherst College, at that time, was one of the few white colleges who accepted sizable numbers of black students.

In 1926, after graduation from Amherst, Drew took a job at Morgan College as a biology teacher and athletics director.

Earning his money coaching athletes, Drew then returned to college to receive his medical degree. He graduated from McGill University's medical program, and took his internship and residency in Canada. Afterwards, he became a teacher of pathology in Howard College, and a resident at Freedman's Hospital in Washington DC. He then worked and taught in New York, at the Columbia-Presbyterian hospital, receiving his Doctorate from Columbia University.

His dissertation was on the condition of blood stored in blood banks, and the method of storing blood as plasma (sans white or red blood cells) to increase storage life. He then supervised the blood-plasma division of New York City's Blood Transfusion Association, which was involved in collecting blood for the British Army.

When America went to war in 1941, Drew was named as director of the blood bank for the National Research Council, collecting blood for the US army and navy, and setting the groundwork for the Red Cross collecting and banking procedures. In 1942, Drew returned to Washington DC., where he became head of Howard University's department of Surgery and chief surgeon at Freedman's Hospital. In 1944, he was elevated to hospital chief of staff and medical director, a position he held until 1948. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1950, on the way to a medical conference.

The storage of blood in plasma form has saved untold lives since Drew brought the process forward in the thirties, and he created the model for blood and plasma storage that is used by the Red Cross even today. His importance to modern medicine cannot be overstated.

Charles Drew: Pioneer in Medicine (Fact Finders: Biographies)
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