I learned a bit more about blood banks.
The first blood bank was created in 1941 by Doctor Charles R. Drew, an African-American physician, surgeon, and medical researcher. He and Doctor John Scudder set up and ran the first program for blood storage and transportation, called the “Blood for Britain” project. England was fighting World War II, though the United States had not yet joined the fight. The Blood for Britain project was meant to provide blood for transfusions for wounded soldiers. The program operated for five months, and collected donations from 15,000 people. After this, Dr. Drew founded and became the first director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank.
The Blood for Britain project, and all later blood banks, depended on Dr. Drew’s discovery of a new way to preserve blood. While studying at Columbia University in New York, he experimented with separating and freezing the components of blood – the red blood cells and the plasma. This made it possible to preserve the separate components, and recombine them later.
- Before Dr. Drew developed his method for storing blood, almost all blood transfusions had to be person-to-person. Hospitals in large cities would register donors to be brought in to provide blood for transfusions when needed.
- Charles Drew earned his medical degree in 1933 at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He also earned a Master of Surgery degree at McGill, and was ranked second in his class. He completed his Doctor of Medical Science degree at Columbia University, and was the first African-American to do so.