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Charles Drew, M.D. (1904 - 1950) Founder of American Red Cross Blood Program


Charles Richard Drew, who was born in Washington, D.C. in 1904, received his medical degree from McGill University School of Medicine and continued his studies at Columbia University, where he wrote a thesis entitled Banked Blood. In 1940, Dr. Drew was asked to help administer the Blood Transformation Betterment Association in New York, which the Red Cross supported financially. The same year, he developed a system to produce plasma, separating it from the blood matter. In 1941, he became the first medical director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank in the United States, which produced dried plasma that could be preserved longer than the liquid plasma. The pioneering medical work of Dr. Drew, a distinguished African American, saved the lives of thousands of wounded Allied serviceman during the Second World War. He received the NAACP's Spingarn Medal for his work in the British and American blood plasma projects. In 1950, he died from injuries received in a car accident despite heroic efforts by the staff of a small North Carolina hospital to keep him alive. During his lifetime, Dr. Drew worked diligently under the constraints of a segregated society to help citizens of the world, regardless of their race or ethnicity.