In February, my fiancé, Kathy and I visited Thailand. We toured grand palaces and Buddhist temples and floating markets around the sprawling capital of Bangkok, then traveled north to mountainous Chiang Mai where we walked with elephants and learned to make Thai food. Then the plan was to finish with beach time on the island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. It was the kind of trip you look forward to for months. A dream vacation. And indeed, most of it was a dream. Most of it.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion. And it is in large part thanks to the pioneering research of Dr. Charles Drew, whose revolutionary work changed the landscape of blood collection and storage and, historians say, saved the lives of millions of soldiers in WWII, that today we have blood banks in our communities to help people when they need blood to live.
“He was a giant in our industry,” said OneBlood Chief Technical Officer Dr. Mike Pratt, who also describes Drew’s research as forming the basis for what would later become cross-matching compatibility testing, which is used in blood banks all over the world today. But it is for what Dr. Charles Drew did for blood stabilization and preservation that his work’s legacy endures today.
It was Seafair weekend, 1975. Graphic artist Steve Skramstad, then 22, came home to his apartment to find his friend rummaging around in the kitchen, probably looking for food. But something was off.
His friend hadn’t been expecting him home and, confused, he became frantic to leave. “He wasn’t in his right mind,” Steve remembers. “He was embarrassed and struck out in desperation to get out of my apartment. I got in the way.”
In the tussle that ensued, Steve’s friend grabbed the six-inch Finnish-style filet knife on the counter and stabbed it deep into Steve’s chest. His friend fled, leaving Steve in the kitchen to call 911 himself, the blade still jabbing out of his ribcage.