New York Blood Center To Present Columbia University With Dr. Charles Drew Lifesaver Award

February 8, 2024

New York Blood Center (NYBC) will be awarding Columbia University with the “Dr. Charles Drew Lifesaver Award” on February 12, 2024, at Columbia University in Harlem.

The event took place at the Faculty House in honor of Black History Month. Additionally, in celebration of Black History Month, NYBC will be partnering with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Second District.

The “Dr. Charles Drew Lifesaver Award” is a new annual recognition for an NYBC partner who brings awareness to the need for diverse blood donors. Dr. Charles Drew is known as one of the founders of modern blood banking. He was the first African American to earn a Doctor of Medical Science degree and went on to work as a physician, surgeon, and researcher. Dr. Drew’s work during World War II helped medics save thousands of Allied forces’ lives and led to the technology and practices used by the nation’s first blood banks and bloodmobiles.

Columbia University has been a longtime partner of NYBC since the 1960s. The University’s blood drive program has collected more than 22,000 blood donations and they host regular blood drives about 12 times a year. The award presentation will be followed by a blood drive with the University from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm to honor Black History Month. 

In a separate effort, NYBC is also partnering with the leadership of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Second District, of which Dr. Charles Drew was a member, for a special Black History Month blood drive initiative.

Throughout February, members from New Jersey, New York City, and Upstate NY, will be encouraging their community to donate blood by registering at

Diverse donations are critical for patients who require specific blood types for transfusions. Patients with sickle cell disease, an inherited red cell disorder that is most common among African Americans, require very closely matched blood products because their bodies make antibodies directed towards transfused red blood cells. This disease impacts about 10,000 New Yorkers, making a diverse blood supply critical for the region’s overall public health. 

“We are grateful to Columbia University and Omega Psi Phi for their partnership and their commitment to encouraging diverse blood donation,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Vice President at New York Blood Center. “This Black History Month, we are honoring the incredible life of Dr. Charles Drew, who was known as the ‘Father of Blood Banking’ and saved countless lives with his innovative work and advocacy. We are proud to present Columbia University with this year’s Dr. Charles Drew Lifesaver Award, a distinction that is extremely well deserved.” 

Columbia University is honored to be the first recipient of this award celebrating Black History Month and commemorating the outstanding scientific achievements of our very own, Dr. Charles R. Drew,” said Shailagh J. Murray, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs at Columbia University. “Throughout our 25-plus years of partnership with the New York Blood Center, Columbia has worked tirelessly to encourage blood donation among our faculty, staff, and students, while also raising awareness of the need for a diverse blood supply. This commitment honors the pioneering work of Dr. Drew in the field of blood transfusions and preservation techniques and underscores our commitment to serving as an integral part of the fabric of New York City, by helping to ensure a ready supply of blood and blood products for hospitals in our area.”

“The Omega Men in New York and New Jersey are excited to partner with such a great organization that makes a difference in the communities they serve,” said Delrecole “Rico” Gales, District Representative of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s 2nd District. “Diversity in donating does make a difference for people of color and donating blood through the Dr. Charles Drew Blood Drives is a commitment for Omega Men.”

New York Blood Center

Founded in 1964, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is a nonprofit organization that is one of the largest independent, community-based blood centers in the world. NYBC, along with its operating divisions Community Blood Center of Kansas City, Missouri (CBC), Innovative Blood Resources (IBR), Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD), and Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC), collect approximately 4,000 units of blood products each day and serve local communities of more than 75 million people in the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT), Mid Atlantic area (PA, DE, MD, VA), Missouri and Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Southern New England.

NYBC and its operating divisions also provide a wide array of transfusion-related medical services to over 500 hospitals nationally, including Comprehensive Cell Solutions, the National Center for Blood Group Genomics, the National Cord Blood Program, and the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, which — among other milestones — developed a practical screening method for hepatitis B as well as a safe, effective and affordable vaccine, and a patented solvent detergent plasma process innovating blood-purification technology worldwide.

Photo credit: Junior M. Benjamin, Director, Community Outreach and Human Resources Administrator, Office of Public Affairs at Columbia University with Natasha Chattar, Account Manager for New York Blood Center.

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