Vivien Thomas, the African American who will later do research and craft the procedures and instruments for the ground breaking “blue baby” operation, is employed at Johns Hopkins, classified the same as a janitor.
November 29: The first "blue baby" operation is performed. The team consists of Dr. Alfred Blalock, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Helen Taussig, and now laboratory technician, Vivien Thomas. Thomas, an African American whose ambitions to be a doctor were crushed by the Great Depression, designs the instruments for the operation and helps develop the surgical techniques for the procedures first practiced on dogs. Pioneering the techniques for this operation using dogs, Dr. Blalock often assists Thomas during the surgery. For this first operation, Thomas stands behind Dr. Blalock as the operation proceeds, offering suggestions and answering questions put to him by Dr. Blalock. In 1977, the University honors Thomas with a doctor of laws degree. He is also appointed to the Medical School Faculty.
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