Blood banks are storage units for blood that can be used during emergencies and operations to replace lost blood in patients.
Blood banks are an invention often taken for granted and yet it is difficult to imagine life without them. The inventor of blood banks Charles Drew grew up in the early 1900s in a segregated America and was one of only a few African American men to graduate university because of the lack of access to education. After studying medicine in Canada, he became a very successful doctor which led to him specialising in working with blood. After returning to New York, he was recruited to work on developing techniques to preserve and store blood.
War can often lead to new inventions and in the past these have included plastic surgery, canned food and digital photography . In the case of blood banks, Charles Drew was put in charge of running an American project to transport blood plasma during World War 2 to help wounded British soldiers as part of the “Blood For Britain” campaign. After the project and the war had ended, the Red Cross enlisted him to start a pilot programme in America that included innovations around blood such as community blood donation centres, factories to process bloods and mobile blood units.
Charles Drew was a visionary because his invention has been used worldwide to save millions of lives since 1941. He transformed healthcare and his work still impacts us today.
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