“Something the Lord Made” HBO Movie

DVD cover, First surgery performed on baby Eileen, Vivien T. Thomas, Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Helen B. Taussig.

Can I just say, this movie is amazing!  I have watched “Partners of the Heart“, documentary made on PBS, by American Frontier.  It was good, but this movie was an actual story/ movie made by HBO, and outstanding cast and it was wonderful to watch!!!

I think back, over 70 years ago, they debated if they should even perform surgery on children with congenital heart defects.  They deemed it a lost cause.  Dr. Helen Taussig, was bent on creating a fix for babies known as “Blue Babies”.  Dr. Blalock while at Vanderbelt University in Nashville – came across an blue collar worker, Vivian Thomas just starting collage, he was also a carpenter.  Being forced to quit school because of the market crashing and banks foreclosing, Vivien Thomas later on took a full time job as a surgeon assistant to Dr. Blalock when he transferred to John Hopkins University.  He was only deemed “maintience” because he was black and was only paid $16.  He proved himself worthy, and became invaluable to their research.  He was humble about his circumstances.  Dr. Blalock couldn’t even perform the surgery with out him.

I am so grateful to Vivien T. Thomas, Dr. Helen B. Taussig, and Dr. Alfred Blalock for their pioneering ways and believing they could help children born with heart defects.  My son has benefited because of their work.  ** I remember when Will was born they had already started to change the “Fontan”.  When Will had his second surgery, they went ahead and put in leads for when he will need his pace-maker because 99% children with fondant eventually need a pace maker.  When the time arrives, he can avoid another heart surgery and they can go in through the stomach.  Also, there was a boy that had an early fontan procedure and came into the children’s hospital to have his fontan fixed to an improved fontan.  Incredible.

All I can say is this story is so incredible, Vivien Thomas, how grateful I am for his quiet strength, knowledge and humility; being black in a white medical society.  This story is defiantly “Something the Lord Made” – I truly believe medical knowledge is enlightenment.

BTW – The medical clamp used during surgery, Vivien designed and constructed smaller to be used on smaller patients. Dr. Blalock examined the instrument and stated that “Vivian didn’t make the instrument . . . .that it was Something the Lord Made

picture credit: http://www.medicalarchives.jhmi.edu/vthomas.htm

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