Doctor Charles Drew-the Blood Man

This is an American Story of making it. Hard work, dedication and talent overcome the stereotypes the times. The misconceptions of the time prior to and even after World War Two astonish most people today. Ignorance was rampant.


The thoughts concerning blood types was in its primitive state prior to the War. It was a common misconception that people of different races could not accept each others blood. A person who was Black could not give a blood transfusion to a White person. And vica versa. Not true but it was the thought process of somehow we were different.


Charles Richard Drew (June 3, 1904 – April 1, 1950) was an American physician, surgeon, and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces. As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, an action which cost him his job.


A common misconception which became a false rumor concerning the death of this great man. A terrible auto accident in April 1950, cost him his life.

“The car swerved and rolled over, breaking his neck and crushing his chest. According to legend, he desperately needed a blood transfusion, but doctors at a hospital in Burlington, North Carolina, refused to admit him, and he died.

This story is told in several black history books and has been repeated by Dick Gregory, among others. But it isn’t true. Morris spoke with Dr. John Ford, one of the passengers in Drew’s car. “We all received the very best of care,” Ford said. “The doctors started treating us immediately.”


This rumor is also repeated on the hit TV show “M*A*S*H” when “Hawkeye” Pierce lectures a racist soldier who has been wounded and requests that he not receive the blood of a black person.


Research shows that this fabrication is not true and Dr. Drew died not because he did not get a transfusion but because the accident was so severe he died anyway. The problem is the story takes over the importance of the man. He was a great man who did his country a true service. Instead he became the poster boy for a controversial topic of prejudice. The fact that he rose to prominence in the forties, became a doctor, became a leader in research and took over a tough job is the greatness of the man.

Charles Richard Drew
Born June 3, 1904
Washington, D.C., USA
Died April 1, 1950 (aged 45)
Burlington, North Carolina, USA
Nationality United States
Fields General Surgery
Institutions Freedman’s Hospital
Morgan State University
Montreal General Hospital
Howard University
Alma mater Amherst College, McGill University, Columbia University
Doctoral advisor John Beattie
Known for Blood banking; blood transfusions
Notable awards Spingarn Medal



The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American.

The award, which consists of a gold medal, was created in 1914 by Joel Elias Spingarn, Chairman of the Board of the NAACP. It was first awarded to biologist Ernest E. Just in 1915, and has been given most years thereafter.

Well-known recipients of the award include: W. E. B. Du Bois, Colonel Charles Young, George Washington Carver, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Sammy Davis, Jr., Alex Haley, Andrew Young, Rosa Parks, Coleman Young, Lena Horne, Bill Cosby, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Earl Graves Alvin Ailey and Maya Angelou.


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