John Scudder

John Scudder books and biography





Dr. John Scudder (1889 - 1971) was a medical doctor and blood transfusion specialist who worked with Dr. Charles Drew to get the Plasma for Britain wartime plasma transfusion project operational.


Early life

Scudder was born to John and Emily Scudder, in 1889, in Brooklyn, New York. He attended various schools before deciding he wanted to be a surgeon and attending Columbia University, where he did graduate level work on blood and surgical procedures for its use.


After obtaining his doctorate, Scudder began working and teaching at Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital. There he worked in blood transfusion and surgery, eventually rising to assistant professor of clinical surgery at Columbia University in 1935. He worked on research centering around whole blood, then on fractionated blood and plasmas. By 1940 he was doing research on blood fluid dynamics as well.

Plasma for Britain

In late 1939, after war broke out, the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association of New York met with certain members of the British medical establishment about tranfusion techniques. Plasma transfusion was possible at that time, but still experimental, and no one had a good method for supplementing Britain with American blood plasma. This was crucial since, by all expectations, any war would be seen as a continuation of the bloody battles of WW I.

The managers of the BTBA turned to Dr. Scudder to organize the project, but he in turn tapped Charles Drew, one of his brightest students, to lead the project. During the course of Plasma for Britain Scudder was often assisting Drew in organizing and communicating with the project managers and other medical authorities.

When Plasma for Britain was turned over in totality to the British Military, Scudder returned to his position at Columbia.

Later life

Scudder continued research in fields related both to blood work and surgury, including writing papers on shock syndrome, banked blood, and using chemicals and X-rays to map out the cardiovascular system. He co-authored many papers and was honored, in the late 50's , by having a blood bank in New York City named after him.

In the 1960's, when there was a conflict between the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks, Scudder came out on the side of the Red Cross, saying that blood donation should be a matter of civic responsibility, not profiteering.

His health began to fail in the late 60's and he died July 11th, 1971 at the age of 82.


  • 'Transfusion reactions during twelve years of banked blood at the Presbyterian hospital' - 1952, Columbia University Press

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