The Impact of Dr. Charles Drew

OneBlood February 22, 2016

Have you ever wondered where the idea of blood banks came from? In the United States, we expect hospitals to have blood on hand to save lives when need, but that wasn’t always the case. The first blood bank wasn’t established until 1936 in a Chicago Hospital and blood banks became more common after World War II proved their effectiveness.

The work of Doctor Charles Drew made blood banking possible. Doctor Drew was the first African-American to receive a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Columbia University and developed a process of separating blood into components. By separating the components, blood could safely be frozen and stored for later use.  Early blood transfusion were often given directly from the donor to the patient in the hospital.

Blood centers today still separate blood donations into separate components even though most donations are used within a few days. Modern medicine has discovered that certain injuries and illness can best be treated with specific blood components and because of this, your individual blood donation could save up to three lives.

Most of us think of red blood cells when we think of donations. Red blood cells are critical for trauma victims and surgery patients, but platelets are important for those undergoing cancer treatment or with weak immune systems. And plasma has clotting power and is often used to treat burn and trauma victims.

Many of us don’t realize that our blood type gives certain components of our blood power. An O- donor is the universal donor for red blood cells, but an AB donor is the universal donor for plasma. By targeting your type, you can maximize the power of your blood.

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