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How To Find Information On Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas

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Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery by Vivien T. Thomas
Call Number: RD27.35.T46 A38 1985
ISBN: 9780585127453
Publication Date: 1985-01-01
Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910[1] – November 26, 1985)[2] was an American laboratory supervisor who developed a procedure used to treat Blue Baby Syndrome

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How Vivien Thomas changed medicine and became a symbol of fighting racism in science: His contribution to the treatment of Tetralogy of Fallot


 The story of Vivien Thomas (1910-1985) is about a person who changed the course of cardiothoracic surgery. Through  double standards and prejudice in society, due to the color of his skin, his accomplishments were not duly recognized.  

Together with the physician Alfred Blalock (1899-1964) and cardiologist Helen Taussig (1898-1986), Vivien Thomas  developed a method of arterial shunting that helped to save the lives of thousands of children with congenital "blue baby"  heart defects, including tetralogy of Fallot. Thomas was the first to perform a successful shunt operation on a dog's heart  (1944) and also produced the necessary tools for its successful implementation.

Only at the age of 60 did he receive  recognition for his years of work and was awarded a doctoral degree. He became the first Black person whose portrait  was hung at Johns Hopkins University alongside presidents and professors of the university. His story inspired the  creation of the films "Something the Lord Made" (2004) and "Partners of the Heart" (2003).

This article aims to shed light on the unrecognized contributions of Vivien Thomas and to call for the addition of his name to the Blalock-Thomas- Taussig shunt, which would be a just recognition of his contributions to the history of medicine, despite the skin color.