Skip to main content

UCI School of Medicine Recognizes Black History Month: Charles R. Drew, MD

Posted: 2023-02-01

Source: UCI School of Medicine
News Type: 

Charles R. Drew, MD.

Photo courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

One name that is instantly synonymous with Black history and medicine is Charles R. Drew, MD. Dr. Drew developed groundbreaking methods of long-term blood storage and transfusions that saved countless lives during World War II, paving the way for the creation of “bloodmobiles” and numerous other modern-day healthcare practices and procedures. 

However, despite these breakthroughs, Dr. Drew’s career could never be wholly excluded from his identity as an African American. In 1941, when he was named medical director of the American Red Cross National Blood Collection program, Dr. Drew himself was unable to donate to the very program that he oversaw due to his race.

While the American Red Cross eventually accepted donations from Black people, their blood was labeled and stored separately from that of White people   a practice that Dr. Drew openly called “unscientific and insulting."

Dr. Drew’s trailblazing career in academic medicine and public service is an everlasting reminder that the history we celebrate should never be separated from the humanity of the people who lived through it.