Celebrating Black History Month: Dr. Charles Richard Drew

By John Peck |  February 11, 2017

Have you ever given blood at one of New Life Fellowship’s annual blood drives? Or have you ever received blood in a hospital for a critical surgical need?

If so, you are either a beneficiary of a man who helped save your life…or a participant in the work of that same man who helped you save another’s life.

This month, our clinic is honoring special medical workers during Black History Month.
Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904 –1950) was an American physiciansurgeon, and medical researcher whose work in the field of blood transfusions and blood storage changed the course of history for so many people.

In 1938, Drew received a Rockefeller Fellowship to study at Columbia University and train at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He then developed a method for processing and preserving blood plasma, or blood without cells. Since plasma lasts much longer than whole blood, it became possible to be stored for long periods, then reconstituted.

His discoveries helped develop large-scale blood banks early in World War II, allowing medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied force.

Drew became the first Director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank, which as you likely know, serves the globe in times of disasters to provide life-saving blood for transfusions. Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, and resigned his position with American Red Cross, which maintained the policy until 1950.

Tragically, Drew was killed in a car crash in Burlington, NC in 1950 – Drew was only 45 at the time of his passing. But his life and contributions in the necessary field of blood preservation, separation, reconstitution and mass storage, is what helps save lives today in times of disasters, crisis and critical surgical procedures that requires large amounts of blood. To honor his legacy, Drew was featured in the United States Postal Service's Great Americans stamp series in 1981, and his name appears on educational institutions across the country.

If you come to a New Life ‘blood drive’, which will be hosted by New Life Fellowship again on Sunday, April 2, 2017, remember this man who is helping you save a life – maybe even your own someday. To sign up for the Blood Drive call 718-565-9844 OR email NLCHC@NLCHC.org