Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Charles Drew

My blog has always been a way for me to share my photographs and my stories, but since I haven’t posted photos lately, I thought I might try something different. Recently I decided that every day in the month of February I would take a look at some influential African- Americans throughout history; learning about their hardships and successes. Some may be known, some may not, but that’s what this adventure is about! I hope you leave this page learning something new and valuable!

For my first entry, I’m delving into the great life of a man named Charles Drew (I would like to thank Lee Parker for introducing me to this man). Charles Drew was born on June 3rd 1904 in Washington D.C. He attended and graduated from Amherst College where he received a Bachelors of Art, McGill University where he graduated as a Medical Doctor and Master of Surgery, and Columbia University where he graduated as a Doctor of Science and Medicine.
During his time in school, Drew had interned and studied blood transfusions, even though at the time the technology used was extremely limited. When he became a resident at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital, he focused the majority of his research around blood transfusions. He discovered that if he separated the liquid part of the blood, plasma, from the red blood cells and the two were refrigerated in separate containers they would stay usable for transfusions for as long as a week. He also discovered that - even though people have different blood types, which are mostly non-transferable in a transfusion – plasma could be transfused because everyone’s is the same.
Charles Drew worked with his passion by not only working for hospitals, but during World War II as a project director in charge of use of blood for the American Red Cross. Unfortunately, while he was working for the Red Cross he had been in the heart of strong racial desegregation stereotypes, mainly that white and black people had different blood that could not be mixed. He published articles, books, and papers, received numerous awards for his work, spoke to people across the US, and became a chairman of the National Medical Association. His life and his accomplishments were cut short, though, in 1950 from an automobile accident. Although his death did stem ultimately from the accident, there are many differing ideas about how he actually died. Most say that when the accident happened he was brought first to a hospital that denied him help because of his race and then brought to another, but the distance and time had made him loose so much blood that he couldn’t have been saved.
Charles Drew was a man that opened a door to a world of medical miracles that might not have existed today. He overcame oppression and fought for what he knew was right. He explored an unknown and made something life saving from that.


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