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In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

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Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

Posted February 01, 2010 10:30 AM by nsbe

Welcome to the National Society of Black Engineer's Black History Month blog on CR4! All through February we will feature a black inventor, scientist, or engineer every day. We hope you enjoy this, learn, and share with your friends!

Charles Richard Drew was a Black physician and medical researcher most remembered for his pioneering work in the development of viable blood transfusions. Born in 1904 to Richard and Nora Drew in Washington D.C., the work of Charles Drew would eventually come to have worldwide impact.

Despite an early interest in education and medicine, Drew was also a talented athlete. He played a variety of sports in high school and college, captaining the track team and starring as the halfback on his collegiate football team. After graduation from Amherst College, he took a position as both biology teacher and Athletic Director at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. In 1928 Drew pursued his interest in medicine with enrollment at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He graduated second in his class of 127 in 1933 with Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine degrees. Following his return to the United States two years later, Drew began work as an instructor of pathology at Howard University, also serving as a resident at the Freedmen's Hospital, where he was awarded the Rockefeller Foundation Research Fellowship.

Charles Drew would later spend two years at Columbia University in New York, where he attended classes and became involved in research on blood and blood transfusions. He wrote his doctoral thesis on "Banked Blood," where he described a technique he developed for the long-term preservation of blood plasma. Prior to his work, blood for transfusions could only be stored for a day or two due to the rapid breakdown in red blood cells. Drew discovered that by separating the blood into blood plasma (the liquid part of blood) and red blood cells and freezing each, the results could be combined up to a week later for a successful transfusion. He also discovered that though blood type could prevent viable transfusion from one donor to another, plasma was universal for all individuals and could thus be administered to any patient regardless of donor.

In late 1940 Drew was called in to direct the Blood Transfusion Association for New York City, the US affiliate of the Blood for Britain project, an institution designed to facilitate the collection, testing, and distribution of blood plasma for soldiers and civilians in Britain. While there, Drew developed the model for providing a central location for blood collection, and instituted a system of contaminant testing and procedural rigor to ensure the safety of all blood used for the program. Blood for Britain operated successfully for five months, during which time the program saved thousands of lives for the Allied Forces. Drew would later be named a project director for the American Red Cross, but resigned that post when the US War Department mandated that blood taken from White donors should be segregated from that of Black donors.

Charles Drew returned to Howard University in 1942 and headed its Department of Surgery, and also served as Chief of Surgery at Freedmen's Hospital. He was later named Chief of Staff and Medical Director for the hospital. Charles Drew died on April 1, 1950, when the automobile he was driving went out of control and turned over three times. While the other three doctors riding with him suffered minor injuries, Drew sustained severe leg injuries and was in shock by the time emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Contrary to popular legend, Drew was not denied care by an all-White hospital; he and the other Black physicians with him were cared for on arrival. Drew's injuries were severe, however, and he died soon after emergency treatment. His legacy lives on, however, in the millions of lives his work in developing the blood plasma bank has touched. His pioneering work has made him one of the most respected figures in modern medicine.

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The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

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#1

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/01/2010 10:58 AM

Welcome to CR4, nsbe! It's great to have you with us!

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/01/2010 11:23 AM

Great Idea,

Is or has there been one for Black Women? Is it possible to include an image or link/s to image/s of each featured black inventor, scientist, or engineer listed each day? Also is there any issue with printing, posting, using the information in my classroom each day?

Thanks

Ray Jenkins

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Ray Jenkins Physics and Engineering McKinley Technology High School Washington, D.C.
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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/01/2010 12:26 PM

This material is not copyrighted so you are free to use the information in the classroom. We will work on getting pictures or links to pictures for each profile. Thank you for your positive comments!

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The mission of NSBE is "to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.
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#3

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/01/2010 12:08 PM

Thank you for this, even though I did not check it the statement

Contrary to popular legend, Drew was not denied care by an all-White hospital; he and the other Black physicians with him were cared for on arrival.

That's the one I was lead to believe....in all places. Second Grade Grammar school. All these years, that is what I took as truth. That had bothered me until now.

Leads me to question (more) things, included what really happened.

p911

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#5

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/02/2010 11:17 AM

Drew was not denied care by an all-White hospital; he and the other Black physicians with him were cared for on arrival.

This statement does not mean it didn't happen that way. Since I have been living through the civil rights, I have noticed that there are a lot of statements made that have been designed to favor someone in some way. This statement can only be corrected by the ones who were involved at that time. The only part of this bio that can be verified are his accomplishments. That is what we should stick to 'just the facts'.

Howard

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/02/2010 11:25 AM

Howard,

as I siad in post #3.

I am sure to each tale thier is some truth behind it. An example....admitted and care for.

Does admitted and care for on the some level and quality as whites is what I would question. I like to think all would see it that way.

p911

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/02/2010 4:48 PM

What does care mean? Sounds like something from Bill Clinton. I think it would be most helpful if as someone said the bio had 'just the facts' and that would imply the verifiable ones. Thanks for the picture it's a great one!

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Ray Jenkins Physics and Engineering McKinley Technology High School Washington, D.C.
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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/02/2010 6:13 PM

Sounds like something from Bill Clinton.

I feel your pain......

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Anonymous Poster
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

02/17/2010 11:00 PM

"We all received the very best of care. The doctors started treating us immediately. [...] He had a superior vena caval syndrome—blood was blocked getting back to his heart from his brain and upper extremities. To give him a transfusion would have killed him sooner. Even the most heroic efforts couldn't have saved him. I can truthfully say that no efforts were spared in the treatment of Drew, and, contrary to popular myth, the fact that he was a Negro did not in any way limit the care that was given to him."

Quote is from Dr. John Ford, one of the passengers in Drew's car.

Citation: ^ Cecil Adams (10 November 1989). "Did the black doctor who invented blood plasma die because white doctors wouldn't treat him?". The Straight Dope. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_073.html. Retrieved 2009-02-03.

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Anonymous Poster
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Welcome & Charles Drew Bio

06/04/2010 7:36 AM

I know thats right. As i was reading the comments i couldnt believe still felt he was denied care.

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