Then, as they settled down to monitor all-night shock experiments, Blalock and Thomas would relax with a whiskey-and-Coke. “Vivien Theodore Thomas, Doctor of Laws,” it reads, a quiet reminder of the thunderous ovation Thomas received when he stood in his gold-and-sable academic robe on May 21, 1976, for the awarding of the degree. Dr. Blalock.”. . With the help of an NAACP lawyer named Thurgood Marshall, Harold Thomas had won his suit. Vivien’s older brother, Harold, had been a school teacher in Nashville. Vivien Thomas was 19, a carpenter's apprentice, when he took a temporary job as a lab assistant to Dr. Alfred Blalock. Nothing in the laboratory had prepared either one for what they saw when Blalock opened Eileen’s chest. Vivien Thomas surprised Johns Hopkins. As the hectic pace of the late ’40s slowed in the early ’50s, the hurried noon visits and evening phone conversations gave way to long, relaxed exchanges through the open door between lab and office. But ultimately the fact that Thomas was black didn’t matter, either. Clara Thomas speaks proudly of her husband’s accomplishments, and matter-of-factly about the recognition that came late in his career. Born October 5, 1920, in Johnson City, The well-spoken young man who sat on the lab stool politely responding to Blalock’s questions had never been in a laboratory before. In 1937, Blalock received an offer of a prestigious chairmanship from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Blalock’s guilt was in no way diminished by his knowing that even with a medical degree, Thomas stood little chance of achieving the prominence of an Old Hand. By 1932, Thomas had made his peace. Vivien was a trailblazer by his work.”. It was the admiration and affection of the men he trained that Thomas valued most. Datasets available include LCSH, BIBFRAME, LC Name Authorities, LC Classification, MARC codes, PREMIS vocabularies, ISO language codes, and more. He died in November 26, 1985 of pancreatic cancer, at age 75, and the book was published just days later. When Alfred Blalock died in 1965 at age 65, Vivien Thomas fell into a depression and did not undertake a major research project for six years. “No, you don’t need an appointment,” his secretary is saying. “It was almost a miracle.”. Sooner or later, he says, all the stories circle back to that moment when Thomas and Blalock stood together in the operating room for the first Blue Baby. How Are Fitness Studios Dealing? “Dr. I was the only one in the lab, except for Casper. Vivien Thomas was born on August 29, 1910 and died on November 26, 1985. Thomas's legacy as an educator and scientist continued with the institution of the Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Awards, given by the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesiology beginning in 1996. Visitors’ eyes widened at the sight of a black man running the lab. “Dr.  Thomas performed the operation hundreds of times on a dog, whereas Blalock only once as Thomas' assistant. That afternoon Blalock presented his situation to Dandy, who responded immediately with a donation to the department—earmarked for Thomas’s salary. And lest Thomas look away, Blalock would plead over his shoulder, “Now you watch, Vivien, and don’t let me put these sutures in wrong!”. “Yes, if not too long,” the reply came. For once, it wasn’t Blalock who asked the question that started it all. “After all, he could have worked all those years and gotten nothing at all,” she says, looking at the Hopkins diploma hanging in a corner of his study. Had the photograph been taken eight years later, it might have included Thomas’s nephew, Koco Eaton, a 1987 graduate of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, trained as a sub-intern in surgery by the men his uncle had trained a generation earlier. When the call came to return to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins, as surgeon-in-chief, he was able to make a deal on his own terms, and it included Thomas. In that case, the answer came back, there would be no deal. They had only Vivien Thomas, who flew from one end of the Hopkins complex to the other without appearing to hurry. He says he’s on his way to do a “tet case” right now. “Something went wrong,” Thomas later wrote in his autobiography. “I think Vivien admired what I did,” says Watkins, “but he knew that we were different. The book was the last work of Vivien Thomas’s life, and probably the most difficult. Until Blalock’s retirement in 1964, the two men continued their partnership. He was a teacher to surgeons at a time when he could not become one. Let’s do things like we used to and find out what happens.”. Thomas's more notable work involves aiding in the discovery of the cause of traumatic shock, designing and guiding the first operation to treat Tetralogy … Vivien Thomas, who never earned a medical degree, died in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 75. So complex was the four-part anomaly of Fallot’s tetralogy that Thomas thought it possible to reproduce only two of the defects, at most. “He took one look,” Thomas remembered, and said, ‘Thomas, that won’t do. From that moment, money ceased to be an issue. Always one for gentle statements, Thomas celebrated the changing times on the last page of his book: Thomas is shown standing proudly next to Levi Watkins and a third-year medical student named Reginald Davis, who is holding his infant son. Up and down the halls of Hopkins, Koco Eaton turned heads—not because he was black, but because he was the nephew of Vivien Thomas.  He did demonstrate that the corrective procedure was not lethal, thus persuading Blalock that the operation could be safely attempted on a human patient. (2003) Timmermans Stefan, "A Black Technician and Blue Babies" in. “Vivien, I want you to listen to this,” he’d say before reading two or three sentences from the pad in his lap, asking, “Is that your impression?” or “Is it all right if I say so-and-so?”. He served as supervisor of the surgical laboratories at Johns Hopkins for 35 years. As he was working out the final details in the dog lab, a frail, cyanotic baby named Eileen Saxon lay in an oxygen tent in the infant ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Watkins holds part of Thomas’s legacy in his hand as he speaks, a metal box called an Automatic Implantable Defibrillator. Thomas received no mention. His father was a builder who had supported a family of seven. I feel as independent as I did in our earlier years, and I want you to be just as free in making your plans.”, “Thank you, Vivien,” Blalock said, then admitted he had no idea where he would go or what he would do after his retirement. "There wasn't a false move, not a wasted motion, when he operated." , Vanderbilt University Medical Center created the Vivien A. Thomas Award for Excellence in Clinical Research â recognizing excellence in conducting clinical research.. Thomas, always his own man, replied, “I will consider it.”. In the end, it was World War II that caused Thomas to “take his chances” with Blalock. Vivien was.”. “I hope you will accept this,” he told Thomas, drawing a file card from his pocket. A PBS documentary Partners of the Heart, was broadcast in 2003 on PBS's American Experience. If he were drafted, it would be to his advantage to be at Hopkins, Thomas decided, because he would probably be placed with a medical unit. His reply was, ‘No, don’t.’ I watched as with an almost 45-degree stoop and obviously in pain, he slowly disappeared through the exit.”. Sidelined by deteriorating health, Blalock decided in the early 1950s that cardiac surgery was a young man’s field, so he turned over the development of the heart-lung machine to two of his superstars, Drs. With his simple questions and his Georgia drawl, Blalock didn’t sound much like the golden boy described in his letters of reference. He cut into the pulmonary artery, creating the opening into which he would sew the divided subclavian artery. According to the accounts in Thomas's 1985 autobiography and in a 1967 interview with medical historian Peter Olch, Taussig suggested only that it might be possible to "reconnect the pipes" in some way to increase the level of blood flow to the lungs but did not suggest how this could be accomplished. “It must have been said many times,” Spencer writes, “that ‘if only’ Vivien had had a proper medical education he might have accomplished a great deal more, but the truth of the matter is that as a black physician in that era, he would probably have had to spend all his time and energy making a living among an economically deprived black population.”. But more than science passed from man to man over fourteen years. Cooley suddenly is on the line from his Texas Heart Institute in Houston. Blalock was not wealthy, but he had an ally at Hopkins, world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Walter Dandy, who was known for his generosity. How and where had he learned? In 1989, Washingtonian published what might be the most popular article in its history. Even with a 20 percent increase over his Vanderbilt salary, Thomas found it “almost impossible to get along.” Something would have to be done, he told Blalock. In December 1933, after a whirlwind courtship, he had married a young woman from Macon, Georgia, named Clara Flanders. He died on … When they confronted discrimination again, they confronted it together. He had been Blalock’s “other hands” in the lab, had enhanced The Professor’s stature, had shaped dozens of dexterous surgeons as Blalock himself could not have—but a price had been paid, and Blalock knew it. In and out of the arteries flashed the straight half-inch needle that Thomas had cut and sharpened. He translated Blalock’s concepts into reality, devising techniques, even entire operations, where none had existed. At 5 PM, when everyone else was leaving, Thomas and “The Professor” prepared to work on into the night—Thomas setting up the treasured Van Slyke machine used to measure blood oxygen, Blalock starting the siphon on the ten-gallon charred keg of whiskey he kept hidden in the laboratory storeroom during Prohibition. Watkins was an honors graduate of Tennessee State, the first black graduate of Vanderbilt University Medical School, and Johns Hopkins’s first black cardiac resident. Weighing the Hopkins pay scale against the postwar building boom in Nashville, he decided to head south to build houses. With no regret for the past, the 35-year-old Thomas took a hard look at the future and at his two daughters’ prospects for earning the degrees that had eluded him. After having worked there for 37 years, Thomas was also finally appointed to the faculty of the School of Medicine as Instructor of Surgery. Even at rest, the nine-pound girl’s skin was deeply blue, her lips and nail beds purple. At the end of the 1950s, he fumed as pilot projects fizzled and he and Thomas fell to philosophizing about problems instead of solving them. Despite the deep respect Thomas was accorded by these surgeons and by the many black lab assistants he trained at Hopkins, he was not well paid. As quietly as he had come through Hopkins’s door at Blalock’s side, Thomas began bringing in other black men, moving them into the role he had first carved out for himself. He was married to Clara Beatrice Flanders. Thomas trained them and sent them out with the Old Hands, who tried to duplicate the Blalock-Thomas magic in their own labs. Within four years, minority enrollment quadrupled. Time and again, to one or another of his residents, Blalock had faulted himself for not helping Thomas to get a medical degree. After his patients, nothing mattered more to Blalock than his research and his “boys,” as he called his residents. Thomas said it would. “He was strictly no-nonsense about the way he ran that lab,” Haller says. In the evenings, with Thomas’s notes at one elbow and a glass of bourbon at the other, Blalock would phone Thomas from his study as he worked on scientific papers late into the night. Today, in heavy gilt frames, those two men silently look at each other from opposite walls of the Blalock Building, just as one morning 40 years ago they stood in silence at Hopkins. Blalock told Thomas, “Let’s face it, Vivien, we’re getting older. People stopped and stared at Thomas, flying down corridors in his white lab coat. They could see that the black man on the stool behind Dr. Blalock was not an MD. Vivien Thomas (1910-1985) was an African-American scientist, pioneer, and renowned educator. But in the medical world of the 1940s that chose and trained men like Denton Cooley, there wasn’t supposed to be a place for a black man, with or without a degree. . He told me, ‘Vivien, all the easy things have been done.’ ”. Heart presenting a tetralogy of Fallot. The problem had stymied Blalock for months, and now it seemed that Thomas had solved it. One after another, cyanotic children who had never been able to sit upright began standing at their crib rails, pink and healthy. They brought expertise in vascular surgery that would change medicine. It will enhance any encyclopedic page you visit with the magic of the WIKI 2 technology. . Doctor Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985) was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome (now known as cyanotic heart disease) in the 1940s. Thomas’s wife, Clara, still refers to her husband’s autobiography by Vivien’s title, Presentation of a Portrait: The Story of a Life, even though when it appeared in print two days after his death in 1985, it bore the more formal title of Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery: Vivien Thomas and His Work With Alfred Blalock. We were operating together on one occasion, and we got into trouble with some massive bleeding in a pulmonary artery, which I was able to handle fairly well. What mattered was that Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas could do historic things together that neither could do alone. Nobody knew how to do this.”. Having learned about Thomas on the day of his death, Washingtonian writer Katie McCabe brought his story to public attention in a 1989 article entitled "Like Something the Lord Made", which won the 1990 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and inspired the PBS documentary Partners of the Heart, which was broadcast in 2003 on PBS's American Experience and won the Organization of American Historians's Erik Barnouw Award for Best History Documentary in 2004. In 1941 the only other black employees at the Johns Hopkins Hospital were janitors. Blalock’s scalpel moved swiftly to the point of no return. It seemed that they were stuck. Vivien Thomas Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985) was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in … (1989) McCabe Katie,"Like Something the Lord Made",. But the young man who read chemistry and physiology textbooks by day and monitored experiments by night was doing more than surviving. Congratulations on this excellent ventureâ¦ what a great idea! Blalock let us know in no uncertain terms, ‘When Vivien speaks, he’s speaking for me,’ ” remembers Dr. David Sabiston, who left Hopkins in 1964 to chair Duke University’s department of surgery. “The Professor and I just looked at each other. Thomas knew the famous Blue Baby doctor the world could not see: a profoundly conscientious surgeon, devastated by patient mortality and keenly aware of his own limitations.  Thomas was classified and paid as a janitor, despite the fact that by the mid-1930s, he was doing the work of a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. I can tell you put it in.’ Without another word, he turned and left. Cooley’s right here. Vivien T. Thomas was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on August 29, 1910. Their first child, Olga Fay, was born the following year, and a second daughter, Theodosia, would arrive in 1938. So Thomas ordered his surgical supplies, cleaned and painted the lab, put on his white coat, and settled down to work.  McCabe's article, brought to Hollywood by Washington, D.C. dentist Irving Sorkin, formed the basis for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning 2004 HBO film Something the Lord Made. Enjoy this article about Vivien Thomas? In 1943, while pursuing his shock research, Blalock was approached by pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig, who was seeking a surgical solution to a complex and fatal four-part heart anomaly called tetralogy of Fallot (also known as blue baby syndrome, although other cardiac anomalies produce blueness, or cyanosis). As Blalock was laying plans for his 1947 “Blue Baby Tour” of Europe, Thomas was preparing to head back home to Nashville, for good. For 34 years they were a remarkable combination: Blalock the scientist, asking the questions; Thomas the pragmatist, figuring out the simplest way to get the answers. I turned to him at the end of it and said, ‘I certainly appreciated the way you solved that problem. .  The grandson of a slave, he attended Pearl High School in Nashville in the 1920s. For $12 a week, with no overtime pay for sixteen-hour days and no prospect of advancement or recognition, another man might have survived. To Thomas he entrusted both and, in so doing, doubled his legacy. We have created a browser extension. No, Vivien Thomas wasn’t a doctor, says Cooley. “Mr. No one else had compiled such a mass of data on hemorrhagic and traumatic shock. Things were getting to the point that it seemed to be a matter of survival.”. Blalock, well into his groundbreaking work on shock—the first phase of the body’s reaction to trauma—needed “someone in the lab whom I can teach to do anything I can do, and maybe do things I can’t do.”. We knew we had the answer in the Vanderbilt work,” Thomas says, referring to the operation he and Blalock had worked out at Vanderbilt some six years earlier—the “failed” experiment in which they had divided a major artery and sewn it into the pulmonary artery that supplied the lungs. Author of autobiography, Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surg… Several days later the foreman said to me, ‘Thomas, you could have fixed that floor right in the first place.’ I knew that I had already learned the lesson which I still remember and try to adhere to: Whatever you do, always do your best. Leaving an indelible mark, he became instructor emeritus of surgery. “You were lucky to have hit the jackpot twice,” Thomas answered, remembering that the good old days were, more often than not, sixteen-hour days. Wearing a back brace as the result of a disc operation, he could barely stand. . . He died on November 26, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. We examined the outside of the heart and found the suture line with most of the silk still intact. “It’s the best I can do—it’s all I can do.”. Blalock could see Thomas had a talent for surgery and a keen intellect, but he was not to see the full measure of the man he’d hired until the day Thomas made his first mistake. He remembers how that baby went from blue to pink the minute Dr. Blalock removed the clamps and her arteries began to function. “Only Vivien is to stand there,” Blalock would tell anyone who moved into the space behind his right shoulder.  Blalock was impressed with Thomas's work; when he inspected the procedure performed on Anna, he reportedly said, "This looks like something the Lord made. A colored man who wasn’t even a doctor. You could also do it yourself at any point in time. From inside a patient’s body, it monitors the heartbeat, shocking the heart back into normal rhythm each time it fibrillates. It was the beginning of modern cardiac surgery, but to Thomas it looked like chaos. A. Schematic representation of the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig anastomosis between the right subclavian artery and right pulmonary artery. The hypertension studies, as such, “were a flop,” Thomas said. “Maybe she could get a job to help out.”, Thomas bristled. The anastomosis began to function, shunting the pure blue blood through the pulmonary artery into the lungs to be oxygenated. Would babies survive it? This includes data values and the controlled vocabularies that house them. “When Vivien saw the number of black medical students increasing so dramatically, he was happy—he was happy,” says Watkins. For the Hopkins cardiac team headed by Drs. “It was Vivien who helped me to work through the problems of testing this thing in the dog lab,” says Watkins, turning the little half-pound “heart shocker” in his hand and running his fingers along its two electrode wires. That's it. It is not Thomas’s diploma that guests first see when they visit the family’s home, but row upon row of children’s and grandchildren’s graduation pictures. One look inside the instrument cabinet told him that he was in the surgical Dark Ages. From beginning to end, Thomas and Blalock maintained a delicate balance of closeness and distance. It was the Old Hands’ relentless campaign that finally convinced Vivien to turn his boxes of notes and files into an autobiography. It was a triumphant moment—an occasion that called for a Yousuf Karsh portrait, a surprise party at the Blalock home, gifts of Scotch and bourbon, and a long evening of reminiscing with the Old Hands. His years at Vanderbilt didn’t just give Blalock a chance to do research and grow as a scientist, though; the university also introduced him to Vivien Thomas. But they were one of the most productive flops in medical history. Vivien Thomas was born in Louisiana. In the world in which Thomas had grown up, confrontation could be dangerous for a black man. On Friday afternoons, Thomas opened the Old Hunterian to the pet owners of Baltimore and presided over an afternoon clinic, gaining as much prestige in the veterinary community as he enjoyed within the medical school. Thomas first would have to reproduce tetralogy of Fallot in the canine heart before the effectiveness of their “pipe-changing” could be tested. Vivien Thomas and Denton Cooley both arrived at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1940— Cooley to begin work on his medical degree, Thomas to run the hospital’s surgical lab under Dr. Alfred Blalock. ELY, Dr. Vivien King, 99, died peacefully on the morning of August 15, 2020, less than two months shy of her 100th birthday. Yet he was full of questions about the experiment in progress, eager to learn not just “what” but “why” and “how.” Instinctively, Blalock responded to that curiosity, describing his experiment as he showed Thomas around the lab.  Newsreels touted the event, greatly enhancing the status of Johns Hopkins and solidifying the reputation of Blalock, who had been regarded as a maverick up until that point by some in the Hopkins old guard. You handled your hands beautifully, too.’, “He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I trained with Vivien.’ ”. “It’s a chance I have to take,” he told Blalock. It was during “Anna’s era,” Haller says, that Thomas became surgeon-in-residence to the pets of Hopkins’s faculty and staff. This led to the peculiar circumstance of his serving drinks to people he had been teaching earlier in the day. For days, he went over the specimens—tiny hearts so deformed they didn’t even look like hearts. . The Linked Data Service provides access to commonly found standards and vocabularies promulgated by the Library of Congress. From across the country they arrived, packing the Hopkins auditorium to present the portrait they had commissioned of “our colleague, Vivien Thomas.”. He was instrumental in the development of the “blue baby” operation in 1944, with surgeon Alfred Blalock and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig. It was the surgeon whom Clara Thomas and her daughters asked to speak at Vivien’s funeral. There was no provision in Hopkins’s salary classification for an anomaly like Thomas: a non-degreed technician with the responsibilities of a postdoctoral research fellow. When Blalock exposed the pulmonary artery, then the subclavian—the two “pipes” he planned to reconnect— he turned to Thomas. I use WIKI 2 every day and almost forgot how the original Wikipedia looks like. I told him he could just pay me off . “It was my first research project when I joined the medical faculty, and Vivien’s last.” Only months after Thomas’s retirement in 1979, Watkins performed the first human implantation of the AID, winning a place in the long line of Hopkins cardiac pioneers. Down the seventh-floor hallway of the Alfred Blalock Clinical Sciences Building they went: the white-haired Professor in his wheelchair; the tall, erect black man slowly pushing him while others rushed past them into the operating rooms. All that was inside the laboratory. He is Dr. Levi Watkins, and the diplomas on his office wall tell a story. Eaton trained in orthopedics and is now the team doctor for the Tampa Bay Rays. That was what he and Thomas talked about the day they met in the hospital cafeteria, a few weeks after Watkins had come to Hopkins as an intern in 1971. When Nashville's banks failed nine months after starting his job with Blalock and Thomas' savings were wiped out, he abandoned his plans for college and medical school, relieved to have even a low-paying job as the Great Depression deepened. Thomas needed a job, he said, until he could enter college the next fall. “Once Dr. Blalock accepted you as a colleague, he trusted you completely—I mean, with his life.” Haller says. He and Thomas were a package deal, Blalock told the powers at Henry Ford. Each morning at 7:30, the great screened windows of Room 706 would be thrown open, the electric fan trained on Dr. Blalock, and the four-inch beam of the portable spotlight focused on the operating field. With Alan Rickman, Yasiin Bey, Kyra Sedgwick, Gabrielle Union. The harmony between the idea man and the detail man never faltered. What he was doing was entirely new to the two other Hopkins lab technicians, who were expected just to set up experiments for the medical investigators to carry out. But “might” wasn’t good enough. Thomas would always tell us, ‘Everybody’s got a job to do. What Happens When a Housemate Gets Diagnosed With the Virus? " Even though Thomas knew he was not allowed to operate on patients at that time, he still followed Blalock's rules and assisted him during surgery. Used to promote blood flow in cyanotic newborns with congenital heart defects, this pioneering surgical treatment has since been used by surgeons around the globe to help thousands of “blue babies.” After Blalock's death from cancer in 1964 at the age of 65, Thomas stayed at Hopkins for 15 more years. But Blalock wanted Thomas there— not watching from the gallery or standing next to the chief resident, Dr. William Longmire, or the intern, Dr. Denton Cooley, or next to Dr. Taussig at the foot of the operating table. For this part of the story, we have Thomas’s own voice on tape—deep, rich, and full of soft accents. His family moved to Nashville, where Vivien graduated with honors from Pearl High School, one of the country's top high schools. And yet history argues that the Vivien Thomas story could never have happened. Credits. Would you like Wikipedia to always look as professional and up-to-date? Each man got more than he bargained for. For the 29-year-old Thomas and his family, it meant leaving the home they had built in Nashville for a strange city and an uncertain future. “I intend for my wife to take care of our children,” he told Blalock, “and I think I have the capability to let her do so—except I may have the wrong job.”. Dr. Denton Cooley has just come out of surgery, and he has 47 minutes between operations. A bank failure during the … No larger than a cigarette package, Watkins’s AID is deceptively simple-looking. “The Master,” Rollins Hanlon called him the day he presented Thomas’s portrait on behalf of the Old Hands. Vivien Thomas died of pancreatic cancer in 1985, and his autobiography was published just days later. Cheating Spouses, Secret Addictions and Identities—Marriages Are Buckling Under Covid Quarantine, 3 Captivating Longreads for a Corona-Free Weekend.  The surgery was not completely successful, though it did prolong the infant's life for several months. 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