January 21, 2020
Pioneer in Medicine/Little known black history facts
Among the most famous and well known African American inventors is Dr. Charles Drew. It is a little known black history fact that his researches on the storage of blood plasma lead to his invention of the Blood Bank. As a physician, surgeon and researcher who transformed the face of medicine. As an inventor his work in the field of blood plasma saved tens of thousands of lives. Most surgical procedures would not be possible without the invention of the blood bank.
Charles Drew lived from 1904-1950; he was born in Washington D.C. As a youth he excelled in academics and sports. After graduating from high school he attended Amherst College where he excelled in track and football. After graduating, Dr. Drew took a position at Morgan State where he coached sports and taught biology and chemistry.
He also had an interest in the medical field. He resigned from teaching and moved to Montreal Canada where he enrolled in McGill University’s school of medicine. While there, he was granted two fellowships and was awarded his doctorate of medicine and master of surgery degree. Dr. Drew also attended Columbia University to complete his PHD on blood storage. His thesis was on an experimental method of separating and storing plasma, allowing it to dehydrate for later use. It is a little known black history that he became the first African American to be awarded a doctorate degree from Columbia University. The blood bank revolutionized the medical profession and his research became widely known.
During this time World War II was underway and many lives were being lost. He was approached by the British military about his research. This new development of storing blood would aid in the treating wounded soldiers on the front line. It is also a little known black history fact that, Dr. Drew established the Red Cross Blood Bank and was the first director. He successfully developed blood storage (the Blood Bank) for the British on a massive scale. Once the U.S. was drawn into the war the government discussed with medical leaders about establishing this same project for the U.S. armed forces. In 1941 the blood bank was used for the U.S. armed forces. His life will be remembered as a pioneer of medicine. The invention of the blood bank changed the face of medicine.