If you have never heard of him before, you certainly know someone who has received some benefit from his work. Dr. Charles Drew was the man who invented the blood bank.

He was born on June 3,1904 in Washington D.C. and graduated from Amherst College in 1926. After working as a biology instructor at Morgan State he applied to medical schools. But the schools in the south would not allow blacks into their programs at that time. Charles Drew applied at Mc Gill University in Montreal Canada. He was accepted and quickly became one of their top students.

Upon graduation from McGill he earned a Doctor of Medicine and a Doctor of Surgery degree. He did his internship and residency at Victoria Royal Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital. He was studying with Dr. John Beattie and together they were examining issues with blood transfusions. In 1938 he received a Rockefeller Fellowship to study at Columbia University and train at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York city. It was during this time that he continued his interest in blood related matters. He developed a method for processing an preserving blood plasma, or blood without cells. Plasma allows blood to be stored or “banked” for longer periods of time. He discovered that plasma could be dried and reconstituted when needed. His research was the basis of his Doctoral thesis “Banked Blood”. He was the first black to earn this degree from Columbia University.

But his real challenge would come with the onset of World War II. He first began working with Britian in an effort to get blood to the soldiers in the field. Through his efforts blood was shipped out in mass amounts and delivered saving thousands of lives on the battlefields.

He attracted the attention of the American Red Cross and was recruited to work for them. It was initially a good fit, until the American Red Cross wanted him to separate the blood from the black recipients and the white volunteers. His refusal was based on the scientific fact that blood only is distinguished by it’s types A,B,AB and O. He submitted his resignation and went on to be a Surgical Instructor at Howard University.

When something has your complete attention and no matter what you do it keeps drawing you back to it, you must follow it through. Your discovery may have an enormous impact on others around you!