U.S. Navy Honors Dr. Charles R. Drew, the African-American Surgeon Who Developed the Process for Storing Blood Plasma

The United States Navy is naming a ship in honor of Charles R. Drew, the former chair of the department of surgery at Howard University and the pioneering scientist who developed the process for storing blood plasma. His research is credited with saving thousands of lives during World War II and countless more since that time. Drew’s research enabled the Red Cross and other organizations to hold blood drives and to establish blood banks for long-term storage.

The USNS Charles R. Drew is a 689-foot, 42,000-ton vessel that will serve as a cargo/ammunition ship. The ship, built in San Diego, will be commissioned on February 27.

Charles Drew was a graduate of Amherst College. He received his medical training at McGill Medical College in Montreal and Columbia University. He was the first African American to earn a Doctor of Medical Science degree at Columbia.

In 1941, Drew joined the Howard University faculty. On April 1, 1950, Dr. Drew was killed in an automobile crash in North Carolina. He was 45 years old.