Dr. Charles Drew, Class of 2000

Dr. Charles Drew

Inducted into the hall of fame - Oct 18, 2000

Dr. Charles Drew was an exceptional graduate in many ways and in the fall of 2000, he was inducted into the McGill Sports Hall of Fame.

Dr. Charles Richard Drew was born in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 1904. He went on to study medicine at McGill after racism excluded him from U.S. schools.

In his first year, Drew broke the intercollegiate record in the 120-yard high hurdles with a time of 15.8 seconds, helping host McGill win the Tait MacKenzie trophy as Canadian senior intercollegiate track champions for the first time in four years.

In 1929-30, Drew won three events at the CIAU championships in Toronto, finishing first in the high jump with a distance 5 feet, 9.75 inches, first in the broad jump (21 feet, 8.4 inches) and first in the 110-yard high hurdles (16 seconds).

He captained the team in 1930-31 and was named CIAU meet champion, accounting for 11 of McGill's 70 points at the championships in Kingston. He won two gold medals at the meet, setting records in the 120-yard-high hurdles (16.2 seconds) and the broad jump (21 feet, 9.6 inches).

In 1931-32, Drew tied teammate James Worrall for gold in the high jump. He also won the 120-yard-high hurdles and the broad jump, bettering his own school records in front of the home crowd at McGill.

In 1932-33, Drew won the 120-yard high hurdles in 15.8 seconds, accounting for 11 of McGill's 73 points at the championship meet in Toronto.

Drew also starred in the annual McGill inter-faculty meet to help the faculty of medicine win.

Drew guided McGill to five consecutive CIAU track and field championships from 1928-32 before graduating from medical school in 1933 with a M.D.C.M.

He went on to be an intern and resident at the Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals.

Drew later was regarded as a pioneer in medicine, discovering the process for separating plasma from blood and storing it until needed. This medical breakthrough has been responsible for saving millions of lives as there had previously been no efficient way to store large quantities of blood for long periods of time.

He returned to Washington in 1935 where he accepted a teaching position at Howard University. By 1940, he had gained international fame after serving as a medical supervisor for the Blood for Britain program during World War II, director of a national blood program in the U.S.A., and as a surgical consultant for the U.S. army.

On April 1, 1950, Drew died at the age of 45 from injuries suffered in a fatal car accident while driving near Burlington, North Carolina. In 1981, the U.S. postal service issued a commemorative stamp in honour of his contributions to science.

In 1997, McGill honoured the late physician by creating the Charles R. Drew Visiting Professorship.