Seven hours and thirty-two minutes into Monday morning and my legs are taking me to the laboratory of Dr. Charles Richard Drew located at Freeman's Hospital in Washington, DC. I heard about his achievements in hematology during WWII. At 7:35 I reach the tall mental doors with the biohazard and chemical warning signs posted around them. I rise on the tips of my toes to peer into the lab. I see a fair skinned man with dark wavy hair adjusting a microscope. My foot bumps against the doors and without looking up, Dr. Drew lifts his hand, motioning for me to enter. He says, "It's great to have you Mia," shaking my hand. "I have set up a few slides of blood cells for you, and perhaps when you are finished, we'll tour the lab.
I follow him in the direction of microscopes and stare into the first one that I encounter. I recognize the familiar circular images. When I have finished studying the slides, as he said he would, he takes me around the small lab. He fills my head with so many terms for the equipment and various chemicals that I eventually stop trying to understand them all. When the tour is over, I inquire about his interest in hematology and how he overcame his dismissal from the Red Cross. His knowledge and belief in the equality of "black and white" blood was not shared by its officials.
The brief interview comes to an end so I stand to shake his hand, and thank him for his time. As I turn to leave he says, "I am proud that you are working diligently to achieve your goals. Stand for what you believe. Persevere - for it will be hard. Unlike me you have two things against you. You are a black woman. I'll look for your name in the headlines.
Sadly, years later in 1950, Dr. Drew is killed in a car accident. The segregated hospital at which he dies was not supplied with blood plasma. Ironically, the technique he produced to save lives was not available to save his own.
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