Alfred Blalock (1899-1964), a cardiologist (therefore, self-confident to the point of arrogance), leaves Vanderbilt for Johns Hopkins taking with him his lab technician, Vivien Thomas (1910-1985). Thomas, an African-American without a college degree, is a gifted mechanic and tool-maker with hands splendidly adept at surgery. In 1941, Blalock and Thomas take on the challenge of blue babies and invent bypass surgery. After trials on dogs, their first patient is baby Eileen, sure to die without the surgery. In defiance of custom and Jim Crow, Blalock brings Thomas into the surgery to advise him, but when Life Magazine and kudos come, Thomas is excluded. Will he receive his due?
A breakthrough that changed the face of medicine. A unique partnership that broke the rules.
Did You Know?
According to a Johns Hopkins Medical Archives website about Blalock, Thomas, Taussig, and the Blue Baby surgeries, Eileen Saxon, the infant depicted in the movie as the first to undergo the procedure, became cyanotic again several months later. She died after another attempt at the surgery. Her experience helped the surgical team determine that the procedure worked best on patients who were over 3 years old. See more
When Reader's Digest publishes a photograph of the first operation, one participant is identified as Dr. Michael DeBakey. Although he was a professor at Tulane, he was on leave as a consultant to the Surgeon General in Washington. See more
[Vivien is abruptly leaving the laboratory
We have work to do.
Do I have your permission, to do some work for my landlord, so I can pay my rent?
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Bob Dylan
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing See more