It’s impossible to determine how many hundreds of thousands of people would have lost their lives without the contributions of African-American inventor Dr. Charles Drew. This physician, researcher and surgeon revolutionized the understanding of blood plasma – leading to the invention of blood banks.
Born in 1904 in Washington, D.C., Charles Drew excelled from early on in both intellectual and athletic pursuits. After becoming a doctor and working as a college instructor, Drew went to Columbia University to do his Ph.D. on blood storage. He completed a thesis titled Banked Blood that invented a method of separating and storing plasma, allowing it to be dehydrated for later use. It was the first time Columbia awarded a doctorate to an African-American.
At the onset of World War II, Drew was called upon to put his techniques into practice. He emerged as the leading authority on mass transfusion and processing methods, and went on to helm the American Red Cross blood bank. When the Armed Forces ordered that only Caucasian blood be given to soldiers, Drew protested and resigned.