Alfred Blalock (1899-1964), a cardiologist (therefore, self-confident to the point of arrogance), leaves Vanderbilt for Johns Hopkins taking with him his lab technician, Vivien Thomas (1910-1985). Thomas, an African-American without a college degree, is a gifted mechanic and tool-maker with hands splendidly adept at surgery. In 1941, Blalock and Thomas take on the challenge of blue babies and invent bypass surgery. After trials on dogs, their first patient is baby Eileen, sure to die without the surgery. In defiance of custom and Jim Crow, Blalock brings Thomas into the surgery to advise him, but when Life Magazine and kudos come, Thomas is excluded. Will he receive his due? Written by
A breakthrough that changed the face of medicine. A unique partnership that broke the rules.
Did You Know?
Based in part on the magazine article "Like Something The Lord Made" by Katie McCabe. It was published in the Washingtonian, and earned McCabe the 1990 National Magazine Feature Writing Award. See more
When Thomas shows Dr. Blalock how to do the anastomosis, Blalock sutures with a pair of artery forceps, not a needle holder. Artery forceps are used to grip tissue, not for suturing. He also holds them in his thumb and index finger, a rookie mistake amongst surgeons. They should be held in his thumb and ring finger. See more
Vivian, that's a girl's name.
Yes, my mother was so sure she was having a girl, she picked the name early and kept it.
Referenced in Dead Teenagers
Written by Keter Betts
Performed by Keter Betts, Harold Mann, Larry Willis and Jacques Johnson See more