Drew saved numerous lives by convincing physicians to use plasma rather whole blood for battle field and other emergency transfusions. Whole blood could only be stored for a week and given only to recipients with compatible blood types. Plasma could be stored longer and was less likely to cause transfusion reactions.
When the U.S war department issued a directive forbidding the mixing of Caucasian and Negro blood in military blood banks, Drew denounced the order and resigned his position. He became a professor of surgery at Howard University in Washington D.C and later chief of staff at freedmen’s Hospital. He was a mentor for numerous young black physicians and campaigned to get them accepted into the medical community. The American medical association, however, firmly refused to admit black members, even Drew himself.
Later one night in 1950, Drew and three other colleagues set out to offer their medical services to annual free clinic in Tuskegee, Alabama. Drew fell asleep at the wheel and was critically injured in the resulting accident. Doctors at the nearest administered blood and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. FOR ALL THE LIVES HE SAVED THROUGH HIS PIONEERING WORK, DREW HIMSELF BLED TO DEATH AT THE AGE OF 45.
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