Charles Richard Drew
Charles Richard Drew was born in Washington DC on June 3, 1904 to Charles and Nora Drew. Charles was a carpet layer and Nora was a schoolteacher. Charles was the first of five children. Growing up, Charles was a superior student maintaining nearly perfect grades throughout high school. He was also a great athlete . He became quite adept at many sports, performing at an advanced level in football, basketball, baseball and numerous others. He was best, however, at football- he played all-American at Amherst College, from which he graduated in 1926.
Had Charles Richard Drew decided to, he could have played professional football. However Drew had another love- all his life he aspired to be a doctor. He was devoted to this, but he did not have enough money for medical school. With loans from friends and two jobs he finally collected enough finances to attend McGill University in Montreal.
Drew earned his MD and CM (master of surgeries) degrees in 1933 from McGill and proceeded to complete internship nearby. After completing residency he became a pathology teacher at Howard University.
By 1938, Charles set up a blood plasma system and by 1939; he set up a blood bank at the Columbia Medical Center. He made a breakthrough discovery that blood plasma could replace whole blood, which deteriorated in a few days of storage . This discovery played a major role during World War II where many countries experienced extreme casualties. Because of his findings, Charles was appointed to a position with the American Red Cross Donor Service and was named director of the first Red Cross project to collect and bank the blood of 100,000 donors.
Drew was invited to a dinner by one of his colleagues. There he met a woman by the name of Lenore Robbins. They fell in love and were married a year later in 1939. They eventually had four children. On April 1, 1950 at the age of 46, Charles Drew was killed in an automobile accident while on his way to a medical conference.
Altman, Susan. Extraordinary Black Americans: from Colonial to Contemporary Times.Chicago: Childrens Press, 1989, PP 161-163
Kranz, Rachel. The Biographical Dictionary of Black Americans. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1992, pp.44-45