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Charles Richard Drew: Blood Bank Inventor

Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) was an American surgeon, medical researcher, and pioneer in the field of blood transfusion. He is best known for his groundbreaking work in developing large-scale blood banks during World War II, which played a crucial role in saving countless lives.

Drew was born on June 3, 1904, in Washington, D.C. He attended Amherst College on a sports scholarship, where he excelled in athletics and academics. After completing his undergraduate studies, he attended medical school at McGill University in Canada, graduating with honors.

Drew's major contributions to medicine came during his time at Columbia University, where he earned a Doctor of Science in Medicine. His doctoral thesis focused on blood storage and the preservation of blood plasma. This research led to the development of blood banks, allowing for large quantities of blood plasma to be collected, stored, and distributed for transfusions.

During World War II, Drew's expertise in blood transfusion and plasma storage led him to oversee the "Blood for Britain" project, which sent life-saving blood plasma to Britain for the treatment of war casualties. His innovative methods for collecting, processing, and transporting blood plasma revolutionized the field and are still foundational to modern blood banking practices.

Despite his significant contributions, Drew faced racial discrimination throughout his career. He was often denied opportunities and faced barriers because of his race, but he remained a strong advocate for diversity and equity in medical education and practice.

Tragically, Charles Drew died in a car accident on April 1, 1950, at the age of 45. His legacy endures, not only in the world of medicine and blood transfusion but also as an inspiration to generations of Black medical professionals and researchers.

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