Notable African Americans! Dr. Charles Drew: father of blood bank. Adam Jaquette.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2008 Skipping Stones
Charles Drew is probably best known as the father of the blood bank. At a blood bank, people can donate their blood to help others who are in need of blood after an accident or during an operation. Doctors use a process known as a blood transfusion to give donated blood to the patient in need. But the blood bank system hasnt always been around to help people. Charles Drew helped to invent a method of storing and delivering blood which saves lives to this day.
Charles was born in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 1904. His parents were hard-working and dedicated to the idea that Charles and his siblings received a good education. That wasnt always easy. Schools in Washington, D.C., were segregated, meaning black children could not attend the same schools as white children. Often, the schools where Charles and his sibilings went werent nearly as good as the schools for the Caucasian children.
Still, Charles was an excellent student. After graduating high school, he attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he was one of only 16 African-American students. He was also a great athlete and played halfback on the football team. Even though he could have become a professional athlete, Charles decided he wanted to do something else with his life.
After graduating from Amherst, Charles moved to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, to study medicine. There, Charles began studying the procedure for blood transfusions that had just been invented. Charles knew this process could save thousands of lives, but there was one problem: the blood could only be stored for seven days. This meant hospitals might not have enough blood on hand to help save injured or sick patients. To help prevent this, Charles came up with his idea for a blood bank.
In 1933, Charles moved to New York to work on his blood bank idea. He discovered that if the blood is separated into two parts–the plasma and the red blood cells–it can be frozen for long periods of time. When needed, the two parts are put back together and given to a patient. Finally, he had a way to make his blood bank idea work!
This invention came just in time. World War II was just beginning in Europe. The blood bank system was put into action to help save the lives of soldiers. The “Blood for Britain” program collected blood from Americans and gave it to the British who were injured in battle.
After the war, Charles spent the rest of his life teaching new doctors and working on the blood bank pro gram. Sadly, he died in a car accident in 1950.
Dr. Charles Drew left a great legacy. He was the first African American to receive the Doctor of Science in Medicine degree. More importantly, he helped to save countless of lives.
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