Dr. Charles Richard Drew (June 3, 1904 - April 1, 1950) was an American medical doctor and surgeon who started the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long-term preservation of blood plasma (he found that plasma kept longer than whole blood). His ideas revolutionized the medical profession and have saved many, many lives.
Dr. Drew set up and operated the blood plasma bank at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, NY. Drew’s project was the model for the Red Cross’ system of blood banks, of which he became the first director. Drew resigned his position as director after the US War Department issued a directive stating that blood taken from white donors should not be mixed with blood taken from black donors. Dr. Drew strongly objected, and stated “the blood of individual human beings may differ by blood groupings, but there is absolutely no scientific basis to indicate any difference in human blood from race to race.” Dr. Drew also formed Britain’s blood bank system.
Dr. Drew died on April 1, 1950, after a car accident in in rural North Carolina. Although there is a legend that he died as a result of being denied a blood transfusion and medical care from a “whites-only” hospital, Dr. Drew got immediate medical attention, in part from the other doctors (his friends) who were in the car accident with him (but were less severely injured). Dr. Drew was admitted to a mixed-race hospital, but died after being treated for massive internal injuries. A U.S. postage stamp was issued in 1981 to honor Dr. Drew.