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Dr. Charles R. Drew

Dr. Charles R. Drew

Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) was a trailblazing surgeon, medical researcher, and crusader for racial equality. He revolutionized blood transfusions during World War II and dedicated his life to dismantling discriminatory practices in medicine. Despite achieving medical marvels, he faced constant pushback for his unwavering fight against segregation in blood donation.

Born in Washington D.C., Drew excelled in academia, becoming the first African American to graduate from Amherst College and receive a doctorate in medical science from Columbia University. His research focused on blood plasma preservation, leading him to develop groundbreaking techniques that extended its shelf life, saving countless lives during the war.

Drew returned from Europe as a celebrated figure, lauded for his contributions to Allied victory. However, upon rejoining the American Red Cross, he faced a harsh reality: blood was segregated based on race, a practice he deemed scientifically unfounded and ethically dubious.

Despite his achievements, Drew resigned in protest, later establishing the independent "Plasmamobile" program, which collected and distributed blood regardless of race. This pioneering initiative paved the way for the desegregation of blood donation in the U.S. in 1950.

Beyond his contributions to blood banking, Drew held prestigious positions at Howard University and Freedman's Hospital, nurturing future generations of Black medical professionals. He tirelessly advocated for desegregation in healthcare and served as a role model for aspiring doctors.

Sadly, his life was tragically cut short in a car accident at the age of 45. However, his legacy lives on. Drew's pioneering research, unwavering fight against segregation, and commitment to mentoring inspire medical professionals and civil rights activists to this day.

Illuminating the legacy of Dr. Charles R. Drew, we celebrate his scientific brilliance, his courage in challenging injustice, and his unwavering dedication to improving lives. He reminds us that progress often requires speaking truth to power and never losing sight of equality.

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