Monday, June 27, 2011

Vivien T. Thomas: The Janitor Cardiac Surgery Pioneer

Vivien T. Thomas

Vivien T. Thomas, L.L.D. was supervisor of surgical laboratories and instructor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was instrumental in the development of the "blue baby" operation in 1944, with surgeon Alfred Blalock and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig. This lifesaving operation to correct a congenital heart defect in babies became a major landmark in pediatric cardiac surgery.

Thomas began his career in medicine in 1930, as an assistant in the laboratory of Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University where Dr. Blalock trained him as his surgical assistant. Thomas' intelligence and outstanding ability as a researcher and surgical assistant was so impressive, that Dr. Blalock requested Thomas to follow him to Johns Hopkins University in 1941.

During Thomas's long year career at Johns Hopkins, he developed several operative techniques, designed surgical instruments, and supervised the surgical laboratories for over 35 years.

Many of the surgeons Vivien Thomas trained credit him with teaching them the surgical technique which placed them at the forefront of medicine in the United States. His surgical technique was so skilled and flawless, that after examining the nearly undetectable suture line from a complex operation, Dr. Blalock remarked, "Vivien, this looks like something the Lord made."
Although Vivien Thomas never received a formal degree in medicine, his enormous contributions to surgery and surgical education were officially recognized in 1976, when he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Johns Hopkins University. Today his portrait hangs in the lobby of the Blalock Building at The Johns Hopkins Hospital across from the image of Alfred Blalock. (source: US National Library of Medicine)

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  1. And the Lord is doing it again, Im inspired to pursue my dream, it's not too late, just watched the movie, it's given me courage like a sign from God.
    Thanks Dr Thomas

  2. Thank you for this great COLLECTION of knowledge, it takes so much to garner the heritage and historical facts: and woW, here comes another spectacular awesome body of work; like this.
    Much APPRECIATION as I / We expand our ancestors journeys.

    Marvin S. Robinson, II
    QUINDARO RUINS / Underground Railroad- Exercise 2015


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