Charles Richard Drew, born June 3, 1904 in the Washington D.C. ghetto and died in Burlington, North Carolina on April 1, 1950, was an American surgeon and researcher.
He devoted himself to blood transfusion, perfecting the techniques of blood conservation, and planned the organization of the first large-scale blood bank at the beginning of the Second World War. Thanks to him, British and later Allied doctors were able to save thousands of lives. However, the primacy of his research on the conservation of blood donations is controversial. As one of the most famous African-American physicians of his time, Drew protested against the segregationist measures (taken in early 1942 by the American Red Cross under pressure from the military) concerning blood donation, noting that they had no scientific basis.
His athletic achievements earned him a scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1926. Admired for his success in American soccer, Charles Drew was admitted to the Omega Psi Phi fraternity at Amherst. He then attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, graduating with an M.D. in 1933, while earning a master’s degree in surgery, ranking 2nd out of 127 students in his class.
The “Blood Plasma for Great Britain” program
In late 1940, while the Battle of Britain was raging (the United States was not yet at war), and he himself had just completed his doctorate, Charles Drew was recruited in New York by John Scudder to oversee a large-scale blood plasma collection program, Blood for Britain.
Charles Drew created a center to receive blood donors, making sure to avoid any contamination:
Within five months, the Blood for Britain program was a complete success, with approximately 15,000 donors and over 5,500 vials of plasma collected. The Blood Transfusion Betterment Association praised Dr. Drew’s work, which resulted in the creation of the first American Red Cross blood bank. After taking over the program, he became the medical director of the blood bank, which processed the samples into dried plasma. In late 1941 (when the United States entered the war), the Army requested that black donors be excluded from the national blood transfusion program, and later requested that vials be distinguished according to the skin color of the donor.
After becoming chief of clinic, the American Board of Surgery asked him in 1943 to be an examiner, a first for a black American.
Since 1939, Charles Drew had participated in the guards at the John A. Andrew Free Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. For their annual participation in 1950, Drew along with three other black doctors decided to drive rather than fly. It was about 8:00 a.m. on April 1, 1950 when Dr. Drew, no doubt still tired from an operation he had performed the day before, lost control of the vehicle. The car went into a field and rolled over three times. The three passengers were only slightly injured, but Drew, who was driving, had to be extricated because his foot was crushed under a pedal. When the paramedics were able to extract him, he was in a coma. He was taken to Alamance Hospital in Burlington, North Carolina, and was pronounced dead an hour after the first surgery. His funeral was held on April 5, 1950, at the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
A persistent rumor (supported by an episode of the television series M*A*S*H and a novel by Philip Roth, The Stain) propagates the idea that Drew died in the hospital due to lack of care (and, to make matters worse, bleeding) and the inability or racism of medical personnel. However, this rumor is unfounded. As one of the victims of the accident, Dr. John Ford, stated, “We all received the best care. The doctors attended to us immediately … was suffering from superior vena cava syndrome: blood from the brain and arms was blocked by a clot; a transfusion would have killed him. The most desperate efforts would have been powerless to save him. I can say with all sincerity that nothing was spared to save his life and, contrary to legend, the fact that he was a black man in no way affected the care that was given to him.”
He married Minie Nelore Robbins, a professor of home economics at Spelman College, who gave him three daughters and a son. His daughter, Charlene Drew Jarvis, was president of Southeastern University in Washington, D.C., from 1996 to 2009.
Multiple schools and clinics in the United States have been named after Dr. Drew.
- Charles Drew
- Charles R. Drew
- (en-US) Cf. à ce sujet l’ouvrage de Charles E. Wynes, Charles Richard Drew : The Man and the Myth, Urbana, IL, University of Illinois Press, 1988, p. 58.
- a b Starr, Douglas P. (2000). Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce. New York: Quill. ISBN 0-688-17649-6
- Salas, Laura P. (2006). Charles Drew: Pioneer in Medicine. Minnesota: Capstone Press. 20 páginas. ISBN 0736854339
- Anne E. Schraff (2003), Charles Drew: Pioneer in Medicine, Enslow Publishing, Inc.
- Brigid Quinn, United States Patent and Trademark Office, ed. (9 de noviembre de 2001). Patent For Preserving Blood publicado el 10 de noviembre de 1942; «Invención de un whasingtoniano hace posible los bancos de sangre». Archivado desde el original el 11 de febrero de 2009. Consultado el 3 de febrero de 2009.
- a b Starr, Douglas P. (2000). Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce. Nueva York: Quill. ISBN 0688176496.
- Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, Nueva York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 157392968.
- Sobre el Dr. Charles R. Drew, Charles Drew Charles Drew Science Enrichment Laboratory, Michigan State University
- Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, Broward County Public Schools
- Roth wspomina historię dr Drew w powieści “The Human Stain”. Zob. P. Roth, “Ludzka skaza”, tłum. J. Kozak, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2015, s. 495.
- The Truth About the Death of Charles Drew. Jim Crow Museum. [dostęp 2016-05-03]. [zarchiwizowane z tego adresu (2013-12-12)]. (ang.).