Dr. Charles Drew is referred to as the father of the blood bank, thanks to his work during the early stages of World War II.
Drew, at the time already a physician, became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Columbia University in 1940. His thesis, “Banked Blood,” was based on his research into the long-term storage of plasma.
Almost immediately, he was asked to be part of the “Blood for Britain” program, in which he helped establish systems to collect, test and transport large quantities of blood plasma to the United Kingdom. He program was credited with collecting an estimated 15,000 donations in a five-month period.
In 1941, he led the development of the American Red Cross blood bank for U.S. military personnel, but he resigned after a short time because the military’s request to segregate blood donated by African-Americans.