All That’s Black: Charles Drew

Charles Drew, Doctor, Scientist, Innovator:

Photo Credit: Howard University

“The blood of individual human beings may differ from blood groupings, but there is absolutely no scientific basis to indicate any difference in human blood from race to race.”

Have you ever donated to or received blood from a blood bank?

If so, you’ve participated in the massive undertaking of one Charles Drew. In the 1940s, Drew had just received his doctorate after presenting a thesis entitled “Banked Blood.”

His work was so intriguing that he was recruited to set up and administer an early prototype program for blood plasma storage and preservation (“Blood for Britain”), collecting, testing and transporting large quantities of plasma.

This endeavour eventually came to be known as bloodmobiles, trucks that held refrigerators of stored blood. His work also ensured that all plasma was tested before it was shipped and that only skilled personnel handled plasma to avoid contamination.

This work is the reason he was appointed director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank in 1941. However, just a year later, Drew resigned from his post after the armed forces ruled that blood from African-Americans would have to be stored separately from that of whites.

By Aprille’ Morris & Emily Burke

By Keshav Kant

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