Panamerican Journal of Trauma, Critical Care & Emergency Surgery

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VOLUME 7 , ISSUE 3 ( September-December, 2018 ) > List of Articles


“Foggy Bottom Neighbourhood” Who Went on to Become the “Father of Modern Day Blood Banking”: Life and Times of Charles Drew—Surgeon, Researcher, Activist, and Physician Extraordinaire

Saptarshi Biswas

Keywords : Blood bank, Blood mobile, Blood transfusion

Citation Information : Biswas S. “Foggy Bottom Neighbourhood” Who Went on to Become the “Father of Modern Day Blood Banking”: Life and Times of Charles Drew—Surgeon, Researcher, Activist, and Physician Extraordinaire. Panam J Trauma Crit Care Emerg Surg 2018; 7 (3):189-193.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10030-1223

License: NA

Published Online: 09-12-2018

Copyright Statement:  NA


At a time when America was racially divided, Dr Charles Richard Drew broke barriers to become one of the pioneer scientists of the 20th century. His groundbreaking research and innovative developments in the use and preservation of blood plasma during World War II helped save thousands of lives, but also revolutionized the nation's blood banking process and standardized procedures for the preservation and storage techniques for a long period. This was later adopted by the American Red Cross. Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 marked the beginning of World War II in Europe. American political leaders although had hoped to stay out of the war initially, but started assessing the nation's preparedness for war, including its medical and scientific resources. As Germany began the incessant bombing of England, the British were in dire need of medical supplies, including blood and plasma for transfusion. In response, a relief program “Blood for Britain” was set up. Besides providing valuable short-term aid to Britain, it was planned to gather the research, experience and administrative data needed to launch a countrywide “blood banking program” if the U.S. entered the war. In late 1940, Dr Charles Drew was chosen as the medical supervisor of the ‘Blood for Britain program’ by the Blood Transfusion Association (BTA). The goal was to help set up an early prototype program for blood storage and preservation. Several blood banks were set up and arrangements were made for large amounts of plasma to be flown to England. The program operated successfully for five months, (till its conclusion in January 1941) with approximately 15,000 people donating blood, and over 5,500 vials of plasma successfully shipped to Britain.

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