Dr. Charles Richard Drew
Pioneer in the Development of Blood Banks
Great Americans Definitive Issue
Scott # 1865
Issued June 3, 1981 in Washington D.C.
Design by Nathan Jones
Charles Richard Drew was born in Washington,
D.C. on June 3, 1904 to Thomas and Nora Drew. Dr Drew's mother quit her job as
a teacher after he was born to care for him and her other children.
Charles attended Stevens Elementary School and
Paul Dunbar High School. He lettered on the football, baseball, basketball,
and track teams and won the James. E. Walker Memorial Medal as
the school's outstanding all-around athlete. The family also lived close
to a farm where horses were raised and trained. Charles loved spending time at
the farm after school. He became an expert rider and learned how to care for
and groom the horses.
Charles attended Amherst College and after
graduation in 1926, he taught biology for two years at Morgan State
University. He entered medical school at McGill University in Montreal in 1929
and graduated second in his class in 1933 . While at McGill, he was elected to
the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Society for medical
students and also starred on the track team.
After graduation, Dr. Drew returned to
Washington D.C. to serve a surgical residency at Howard University's
Freedman's Hospital. In 1938 he attended Columbia University on a Rockefeller
Foundation Fellowship. In 1940 Dr. Drew became the first African American to
earn a Doctor of Science in Medicine Degree, (M.D. Sc.).
Dr. Drew's doctorial thesis involved research into the properties and
preservation of blood plasma. His thesis, "Banked Blood"
established Dr. Drew as the leading authority on the preservation of blood
During the early years of World War II the
British were in desperate need of blood for their wounded soldiers and in 1940
Dr Drew was chosen to lead the Blood for Britain program. Dr
Drew arranged for plasma to be flown to Great Britain and set up several blood
banks in the country.
In 1941 Dr Drew was chosen to lead the American
Red Cross blood bank program, however a War Department directive stated
that, "It is not advisable to indiscriminately mix Caucasian and
and Negro blood for use in blood transfusions for the U.S. Military".
Dr Drew protested against this blood segregation (which has no basis in
scientific fact) and as a result was forced to resign his position. (The
United States Military did not end segregation of it's blood supplies until
Following his service in World War II Dr Drew
returned to Howard University where he taught until his death in 1950. Dr Drew
also served as Chief of Surgery at Freedmen's Hospital and was elected to the International
College of Surgeons in 1946. He was appointed as a surgical consultant
for the Army's European Theater of Operations in 1949.
Dr. Charles Richard Drew was killed in an
automobile accident after giving a speech at the Tuskegee Institute on April
1, 1950. The Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School was established in
California in 1966.