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Congenital Cardiac Surgery

Historical Note

Dr. Alfred BlalockDr. Alfred Blalock, Chief of the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1941 to 1964.

One of the historical milestones of congenital cardiac surgery was performed at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on November 29th, 1944. Up to that day, most infants and children with congenital heart disease (the then so-called "blue babies") had in fact no hope for cure, and died as a consequence of their heart condition. Because of their abnormalities, many children suffered from chronic lack of oxygen, and followed the unfortunate course of their disease to their premature death.

Doctor Alfred Blalock first offered these children the possibility of increasing their oxygen levels, by creating a connection between oxygen-rich and oxygen-deprived blood vessels (the "Blalock-Taussig shunt"). After that first successful operation, hundreds of children traveled to Baltimore to become pink again. Over the ensuing decades, many more underwent ever more complex operations, to correct anomalies that affect age groups from the neonatal period to adulthood.

The Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiac Team

An experienced, multi-disciplinary team of physicians and healthcare specialists makes up the pediatric cardiac team at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Pediatric cardiac surgeons and pediatric cardiologists work together in the pre-operative evaluation of pediatric heart patients or adults with congenital heart disease.

During the intra-operative and immediately post-operative phase, our patients are carefully managed by anesthesiologists and pediatric intensive care specialists, whose primary area of expertise and focus is the patient with heart malformations. The team involved in the care of your child or your relative also includes nursing staff, respiratory therapists as well psychological support staff and social workers.

(photo: The first "blue baby" operation (the "Blalock-Taussig shunt"). Dr. Blalock is seen to the left side of the patient. Assisting him is his then intern, Dr. Denton Cooley.)