By Lisa Yount

This booklet examines the careers of Blalock, a white male health professional; 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 kids, but additionally made surgeons conscious that surgical procedure on residing hearts used to be attainable.

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Additional info for Alfred Blalock, Helen Taussig, & Vivien Thomas: Mending Children's Hearts

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Blalock quickly learned, however, that winning over Johns Hopkins was only part of his task. Thomas, as always, was his own man, and the fact that Blalock had arranged a position for him did not automatically mean that he would accept it. Before deciding, Thomas wanted to discuss the matter with his wife, Clara. The Great Depression had begun to ease by this time, and construction jobs were once again plentiful in Nashville. Thomas felt sure he would have no trouble finding carpentry work if he stayed in that city.

Lingering in the background was a loss of trust in everything and everybody,” he wrote. Thomas’s practical side quickly made him realize that he still had one precious thing: paying work. “Men were walking the streets looking for jobs that did not exist,” he reminded himself. ” He occasionally discussed his hopes with Blalock, but Blalock “never encouraged me to attempt to continue my education,” Thomas wrote. The surgeon, it seemed, was more interested in keeping a valuable laboratory technician than in helping that technician achieve his own dreams.

Blalock’s chemistry experiments showed why shock is so disastrous to the body. The key substances that leak out of the vessels with the fluid during shock, he explained in a lecture in Chicago in 1933, are proteins, a large class of biochemicals that do most of the work of the body. Certain proteins attract fluid and keep it in place. When these proteins drain into the tissues through the leaky blood vessels, fluid from the blood follows them, leaving the circulation depleted. Blalock also made further studies of different treatments for shock.

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Alfred Blalock, Helen Taussig, & Vivien Thomas: Mending by Lisa Yount
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