Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever

Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever
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On a cold day in November 1944, eighteen-month-old Eileen Saxon was brought into an operating room at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She could barely breathe, and he lips and fingertips had turned a dusky blue, the result of a heart condition known as blue baby syndrome. Most doctors who had seen her expected her to die within hours.

An unlikely trio prepared to operate. Dr. Alfred Blalock was the chief surgeon and an internationally famous researcher. Next to him stood a world-famous pediatric physician, Dr. Helen Taussig. Standing on a stool behind Dr. Blalock was the trio's third member, Vivien Thomas. He wasn't a doctor; he'd never even gone to college. According to hospital rules, he wasn't supposed to be in the operating room.

Thomas, Blalock's lab assistant, had drawn on past research and conceived the blue-baby procedure; he was the only person who had ever carried out the procedure successfully, on a research animal. Most people at then-segregated Johns Hopkins had no idea of Thomas's knowledge and skills; because he was a janitor.

Master Nonfiction writer Jim Murphy tells the dramatic story of one of the fist successful heart operations ever performed--a miraculous medical breakthrough that ultimately resulted in saving the lives of tens of thousands of children and paving the way for future heart surgery. It is also the story of an unusual partnership of genius, determination, and teamwork that changed the lives of everyone involved.

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