Charles Richard Drew was born on June 3, 1904 in Washington DC.
At Amherst College
he became an all-American football player
. Amherst was one of the few white colleges of the time that accepted black students in a sizeable number.
After graduating from Amherst in 1926, Drew took a job at Morgan College as a biology teacher and athletics director. After earning enough to go back to college he returned to receive his medical degree at McGill University. Following an internship and residency in Canada and resident at Freedman's Hospital in Washington DC. he worked and taught at the Columbia-Presbyterian hospital in New York where he received his Doctorate.
Drew's dissertation was on the condition of blood stored at blood banks and the method of storing blood as plasma to increase storage life. He supervised the blood-plasma division of New York City's Blood Transfusion Association which was at the time collecting blood for the British Army.
In 1941 Drew was named director of the blood bank for the National Research Council which was collecting blood for the US Army and navy. This was forming the groundwork for the Red Cross collection and banking procedures. In 1942 Drew returned to Washington DC., where he became head of Howard University's department of Surgery and chief surgeon at Freedman's Hospital. In 1944 he was elevated to hospital chief of staff and medical director which he held until 1948.
The urban legend form of his death:
Charles Drew was killed in an automobile accident in 1950 on the way to a medical conference. The very procedures that he pioneered would have saved his life, however because of the discrimination practiced by the white hospitals in the area prevented him from receiving the blood transfusions.
The actual account:
"Doctor Drew's cause of death was that of a broken neck and complete blockage of the blood flow back to the heart. Immediately following the accident in which he was half thrown out of the car, and actually crushed to death by the car as it turned over the second time, the doctors who were were able to, got out of the car quickly and came to Doctor Drew's rescue, but it was of no avail because even at that time, it was quite obvious that his chances of surviving were nil."
Dr. Ford (another black physician who was with Dr. Drew in the accident)