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Vivien Thomas – cardiac surgery pioneer – African American History Month 2015 #BlackHistoryMonth

Vivien T. Thomas (Portrait By Bob Gee)

Vivien Theodore Thomas was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s. He was the assistant to surgeon Alfred Blalock in Blalock’s experimental animal laboratory at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and later at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He served as supervisor of the surgical laboratories at Johns Hopkins for 35 years. In 1976 Hopkins awarded him an honorary doctorate and named him an instructor of surgery for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Without any education past high school, Dr. Thomas rose above poverty and racism to become a cardiac surgery pioneer and a teacher of operative techniques to many of the country’s most prominent surgeons. He was the first African American without a doctorate to perform open heart surgery on a white patient in the United States. There is a television film based on his life entitled Something The Lord Made which premiered May 2004 on HBO – Wikipedia


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1 Comment

  1. The HBO film mentioned is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen out of Mos Def as Thomas and Alan Rickman as Dr. Blalock. Very worth seeing.

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