By Lisa Yount
This e-book examines the careers of Blalock, a white male general practitioner; Taussig, a white girl heart specialist; and Thomas, an African American male laboratory technician; who in 1944 mixed their abilities to create a groundbreaking surgery that not just kept the lives of millions of youngsters, but additionally made surgeons conscious that surgical procedure on dwelling hearts was once attainable.
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Extra info for Alfred Blalock, Helen Taussig, & Vivien Thomas: Mending Children's Hearts
Medical school in the 1920s that admitted women. indd 15 8/23/11 11:59 AM 16 ALFRED BLALOCK, HELEN TAUSSIG, AND VIVIEN THOMAS Edwards Albert Park (1877–1969), shown here in a painting by Paul Trebilcock in 1937, took over the pediatric department at the Johns Hopkins medical school and hospital in 1927. He became Helen Taussig’s mentor and friend and appointed her to head his newly established pediatric cardiology clinic in 1930. D. in 1927. In arranging her postdoctoral training, Taussig encountered a disappointment much like Blalock’s.
The sickly, blue-lipped children simply lived their short, restricted lives and then died. indd 34 8/23/11 11:59 AM 3 Chief of Surgery Of all the heart-related birth defects Helen Taussig saw in her clinic, the one she encountered most often was a group of four malformations that usually occurred together. They were called tetralogy of Fallot (tetra- means “four”), after Étienne-Louis Fallot (1850–1911), a professor of forensic pathology in Marseilles, France, who described them in 1888. Because the defects kept the children’s blood from obtaining as much oxygen as it needed, turning their skin cyanotic or bluish, infants who suffered from tetralogy of Fallot were often termed blue babies.
Taussig became so involved in her experiments that she often stayed in the laboratory until midnight. indd 13 8/23/11 11:59 AM 14 ALFRED BLALOCK, HELEN TAUSSIG, AND VIVIEN THOMAS THE FIRST WOMEN DOCTORS Before the 20th century, women were barred by custom and frequently by law from working as physicians. Authorities sometimes threatened those who disobeyed with death. People were sure that even the most inept male doctor would be more competent than the most brilliant woman. D. degree, was able to enter medical school only because the people who saw her application thought it was a joke.
Alfred Blalock, Helen Taussig, & Vivien Thomas: Mending Children's Hearts by Lisa Yount