Segregating Blood

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Dr. Charles Drew, c.1950, National Archives, 559199

With U.S. involvement in World War II imminent, the Red Cross was tasked with organizing a blood donor program that could be used in the event of American casualties. The Red Cross recruited noted physician Dr. Charles Drew to head the program and devise a method of processing blood into dried plasma on a large scale.

Drew rose to the occasion and soon began opening collection centers across the United States. However, his tenure was short-lived. When the Army instructed the Red Cross to begin segregating blood from Black donors, Drew, an African American, resigned from his post, citing the lack of scientific basis for such a request.