Doctor Charles Richard Drew's Home
Charles Drew's home in Arlington, VA.
Backstory and Context
Dr. Charles Richard Drew was a pioneer in the field of pathology until his death in 1950. Dr. Drew had multiple discoveries but most notable is in the isolation of blood plasma. While working at Columbia Dr. Drew found that blood could be stored in better ways. He also was a first for many contributions in his field as an African American while campaigning against segregation in various areas of his field.
While his work was not done in his home and rather at Columbia University, any place Dr. Drew touched should be known as a landmark as his worked saved many lives including warriors of World War 2 and continues today. In his time, types of blood were just being discovered so transfusions were only becoming possible. However, blood only had a life of around seven days so the likelihood one could get a transfusion was lower than today. Dr. Drew worked tirelessly to find that blood would become dehydrated after this seven days and with separating plasma from blood one could store it much longer than seven days. Storage had another issue as blood would have to stay cooled so Dr. Drew developed methods in combatting this problem with so called "bloodmobiles" or "refrigerated trucks". This was most useful in wartime situations as blood could not be transported to areas before Dr. Drew's inventions.
While Dr. Drew was most known for his work in pathology it should also be noted he was a pioneer for African Americans. Dr. Drew was the first African American to join the American Board of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University. He was also the first to graduate Columbia with a Doctorate of Science as well as the director of the first American Red Cross blood drive. His work with the American Red Cross led him to the nickname "father of the blood bank".
Dr. Drew was ahead of his time, however, and was not able to participate in his own discoveries because he was African American. In the 1940s-50's African Americans were not allowed to donate blood. He found this to be "insulting" and "unscientific". Dr. Drew resigned from the Red Cross and went on to teach at Howard University to help African Americans advance in the world of surgery. He believed this was his greatest contribution to society as well as campaigning against excluding people of his own race from societies such as the AMA.
As one can see Dr. Charles R Drew is a revolutionary figure in African American history. Dr. Drew let his work help credit the African American community in the fight against segregation. His studies of blood helped pioneer many discoveries in the medical field and he will go down in history as an all-time great in the business of saving lives.