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Moments in Surgical History
October 2000

Charles Richard Drew

Arch Surg. 2000;135(10):1233. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.10.1233

THERE IS little disputing the fact that racial bias has affected the evolution of American surgery. Every aspect of American society suffers from such discrimination as innocent victims of injustice are forced into neverending struggles to attain professional competency. Charles Richard Drew faced such adversity in what should have been a long and memorable career as one of the country's elite surgical masters. Born in Washington, DC, where he attended Dunbar High School, Drew matriculated at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass (1926), and received his medical and master of surgery degrees from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec (1933). From 1933 to 1935, he was an intern and resident at the Montreal General Hospital. As an African American, he initially pursued surgical training at the Freedmen's Hospital in his native city (1936-1937), but from 1938 to 1940 his outstanding abilities were recognized when he was a "surgical resident" at Presbyterian Hospital, New York City. Working additionally as a graduate student at Columbia University, Drew earned a doctor of science degree in 1940, authoring a thesis entitled, Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation. Drew's mentors in New York City included Allen Whipple (1881-1963) and John Scudder, who aided him as he completed research on problems of fluid balance, blood chemistry, and blood transfusion and established the Presbyterian Hospital's first blood bank in 1939.

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