HBO FILM TELLS STORY OF TWO HOPKINS BREAKTHROUGHS: ONE MEDICAL, ONE INTERRACIAL
“SOMETHING THE LORD MADE” PREMIERS AT SENATOR MAY 18; TO AIR 9 P.M., MAY 30
HBO’S new film, Something The Lord Made, starring Alan Rickman, Mos Def, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kyra Sedgwick and Charles Dutton, tells the moving story of an unusual partnership at The Johns Hopkins Hospital between one of the nation’s pioneering surgeons, Alfred Blalock, and his young African-American lab assistant, Vivien Thomas. Coming of age in different worlds, they nevertheless forged a poignant and sometimes stormy relationship to develop the so-called Blue Baby operation and usher in a golden age of heart surgery. The Blue Baby operation, which surgically corrected a congenital defect of the heart known as the Tetralogy of Fallot, broke the last barrier to operating directly on the heart, long considered taboo and an impossibility.
The Hopkins of today is not the Hopkins of the 1940s
Some of the most renowned African-American surgeons in the world are at Hopkins, including:
- Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon widely known for his operations to end crippling seizures;
- cardiac surgeon Levi Watkins, who, in 1980, became the first physician to insert an automatic implantable defibrillator (developed at Hopkins) into a patient;
- Claudia Thomas, the first African-American female orthopedic surgeon in the nation,
- and trauma surgeon Edward Cornwell, whose efforts on behalf of violence prevention programs have matched his ability to save youthful victims of violence.
Julie Freischlag, appointed chief of the Hopkins Department of Surgery in 2003, is the first woman to serve as a chief of surgery in the elite medical schools of the nation. Last year, 47 Hopkins medical students out of a class of 116 were females; 13 were African-American, 24 were Asian, and 5 were Hispanic.
As the birthplace of cardiac surgery, Hopkins continues to build on this legacy of discovery and innovation.