Try reading Vivien Thomas entry in Wikipedia, and ignoring
all the roadblocks and "you can't come in here's", and "What are you doing wearing a white coat boy, Janitorial Staff wear grey".
Note also that the shunt that he perfected and was the first to surgically implant in a baby with Tetralogy of Fallot is called the Blalock Taussig Shunt
"Thomas rose above poverty and racism to become a cardiac surgery pioneer and a teacher of operative techniques to many of the country's most prominent surgeons. Vivien Thomas was the first African American without a doctorate degree to perform open heart surgery on a white patient in the United States." All without a Medical Degree, or a University Degree, just a High School Diploma.
There is a very good PBS Movie about Vivien Thomas called "Like Something the Lord Made" which as I understand it was Blalock's utterance when he saw the shunt functioning in a dog with surgically created Tetralogy of Fallot. But that's just a note and not evidence.
There have been comments about Baltimore in other threads, Vivien Thomas worked at John's Hopkins in a profoundly racist period, the 30's and 40's. To ignore or deny the racism is to diminish the triumph in his success over it. He was repeatedly promised time off to get his medical degree, but somehow that time off was never forthcoming.
"He worked at Fisk University in the summer of 1929 doing carpentry but was laid off in the fall. In the wake of the stock market crash in October, Thomas put his educational plans on hold, and, through a friend, in February 1930 secured a job as surgical research technician with Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University. On his first day of work, Thomas assisted Blalock with a surgical experiment on a dog. At the end of Thomas' first day, Blalock told Thomas they would do another experiment the next morning. Blalock told Thomas to "come in and put the animal to sleep and get it set up". Within a few weeks, Thomas was starting surgery on his own. 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."
So how do you treat the fact that he was paid as a janitor when he was working as a post doctoral researcher who were considerably better paid, but of a different colour. Do you ignore it and pretend it didn't happen? Do you deplore it and say that's dreadful, and then wash your hands? or do you say that is an injustice which not even having his portrait hung in the entrance of Johns Hopkins can counter balance?
And how do you cope with, if you're somebody with medical connections and who was born in Baltimore, knowing Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig's names, and never having heard of Vivien Thomas.
Blalock gets credit for recognizing that Thomas's surgical skills were so superb, that he let Thomas do quite a lot of surgery keeping the fact that the surgeon working on the baby was black, closely hidden.
I notice that the original title of the PBS movie was called Partners of the Heart. I saw it broadcast in Canada on either the Independent Film Channel or TVOntario or something where it was called "Like Something the Lord Made".
When I was 16 and in the Debate Club at High School I was on the Desegregation side of the debate. At some point at the end of everything, somebody said to me, "So how long do you think it will take?" and I said "50 Years", that was 1963. I still think it will take another 50 years.
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