Dr. Charles Richard Drew Dr. Charles Richard Drew was a pioneer as a medical physician who made a drastic contribution to the medical surgery practice called the blood transfusion. Even though he was the inventor of the procedure, he did not benefit from it financially and, ironically, died from not getting the very thing he invented. Charles Drew was born in 1904, in Washington, D.
C. He was the eldest of five children, Elsie, Joseph, Nora, and Eva. Elsie was born when Charles was two, Joseph was born in 1909, Nora in 1913, and Eva in 1921. His parents were Nora and Richard Drew. All throughout Charles' academic career, he was involved greatly in sports and was a tough competitor.
He played football, ran track, and swam. He received many awards as all around athlete. While he was in high school, and at the peak of his athletic career, his sister, Elsie, died of tuberculosis. This tragedy ignited him in a desire to help others by becoming a doctor (Charles R. Drew).
After high school, Charles Drew applied to two colleges. The first was Howard University, and the second was McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Howard, his first choice, decided against him because they said that he did not earn the required number of English credits at Amherst High School. Instead, Howard offered him a job as an assistant football coach and he declined.
Then at McGill, his second choice accepted him immediately, finding his credentials satisfactory (Charles Richard). While at McGill University, Drew won a membership into the Medical Honorary Society. He had become interested in the research of blood at this school. He graduated from McGill in 1933 and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. Charles then was an intern at Royal Victoria Hospital and at Montreal General Hospital for a year. In 1934 he became a resident of medicine at Montreal General Hospital, where he researched the chemistry of blood wit his former professor from McGill, John Bettie.
Ironically, after his medical internships, he went on to teach at Howard University's Medical School. After his teaching experience at Howard, Drew went to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York and researched a process for blood preservation. He developed a technique for long-term preservation of blood plasma and earned the Doctor of Science in Medicine degree in 1940. In the same year, Drew received scores of awards and honors, and was recognized as one of the world's leading physicians. Besides working on blood plasma Drew worked on blood transfusions.
He tested and retested blood samples, to determine how and why whole blood breaks down under sub-zero temperatures. He then reduced whole blood to its four elements, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma, to study how each component might play a role in lengthening the "life" of whole blood. He found that more than half of every drop of whole blood is made up of a yellowish, watery liquid called plasma, which carries nutrient to the cells of the body. Plasma is only one component of blood, and, by itself, it cannot supply all the benefits of whole blood. But in an emergency, a transfusion of plasma can save a person's life. As a source for transfusions, Drew found that plasma has another advantage that whole blood lacks.
Any person, no matter what blood type, can receive plasma from any other person because the substance that determines blood types are found only in red blood cells, not in plasma. Plasma is also not as perishable as whole blood. It can be stored for a much longer time than whole blood can and it can also be dehydrated. These processes allow plasma to be easily transported and stored. This process, developed by Drew, is very efficient because it can save the life of a wounded patient by combating shock, and it can be administered quickly, even if a person's blood type is not known. Charles Drew's old friend from Howard University, by now the Dean of the University, Dr.
Numa Adams, invited him to speak on the subject of blood transfusions at a medical clinic held annually at a hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. He joined the Howard doctors in Washington, D. C. , for the long drive to Alabama. On the way they spent the night in Atlanta, GA, with W.
Mercer Cook, one of Drew's friends from Amherst High School. Cook arranged a party and this is where Charles met Lenore Robbins, a home economics teacher at Spelman College for females only. Lenore realized Charles Drew was no ordinary man and said: The moment I saw him I knew he was a man to be reckoned with. He seemed to be from another- a more old-fashioned and courtly- time and place. He listened with fatherly interest to the hopes and problems that some of us teachers poured out to him. "Just keep dreaming high," Charles would tell us.
"We will make the kind of world we want." Lenore certainly made a positive impression on Charles because he had already made up his mind that he wanted to marry her. (One Blood p. 17-18) Charles Drew went to Tuskegee as planned and delivered his lecture on transfusions to the doctors assembled at the conference. Then Charles parted with Dean Adams and the other doctors from Howard University, boarded the fist train to Atlanta, and proposed to Lenore "on the moonlit campus." Six months later, they were married (One Blood p. 17-18) On August 9, 1939, Charles watched as the doors of the Columbia-Presbyterian blood bank were opened.
John Scudder, a former professor from McGill University, called him not only "my most brilliant student, but one of the greatest clinical scientists of the first half of the twentieth century. Later, Charles Drew resigned his position with the American Red Cross Blood Bank because the War Department sent out a directive stating that blood taken from white donors should not be mixed with that of black donors. In 1941, this issue caused widespread controversy and Drew called the order a "stupid blunder" (Dr. Drew p. 8-10).
On April 1, 1950, Drew was killed in an automobile accident while on a trip to a medical meeting in Tuskegee. The irony of his death was that his life might have been saved if he had received immediate medical attention following the accident, but because of discrimination at nearby white hospitals he was not allowed to receive a blood transfusion (Drew p. 10-15). Millions of schools and health clinics throughout the United States have been named in honor of Charles Drew and his ingenious gift to mankind. Every blood bank and college he established or taught at, in addition, is a memorial to the genius of Dr. Charles Richard Drew.
This name will live on forever in the history of medicine and the medical practice. 336.