Daniel Hale Williams: January 18 1856 August 4 1931
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the founder of Provident Hospital and the first doctor to perform open heart surgery, was born in Hollidaysburg, PA. At the age of nine, Dr. Williams lost his father to tuberculosis. His mother moved the family to Baltimore, where he apprenticed with a shoemaker. He also followed in his fathers footsteps and studied to be a barber, where he found quite a bit of success. While working as a barber in Janesville, WI, he attended high school and later an academy where he graduated at the age of twenty-three.
Soon, Dr. Williams began studying medicine under prominent surgeon Dr. Henry Palmer. Dr. Williams attended Chicago Medical School and graduated with an M.D. degree in 1883. He began practicing in Chicago where, at the time, he was one of only four Black physicians in the city. He worked with organizations like the South Side Dispensary, City Railway Company, and the Protestant Orphan Asylum, while also teaching anatomy at Northwestern University Medical School for four years.
The legacy of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams lives on in modern cardiovascular surgery, the civil rights he fought for within the medical community through his hospital and nursing training programs, and his activism within the Black community.
Who Was Daniel Hale Williams
Daniel Hale Williams pursued a pioneering career in medicine. An African American doctor, in 1891, Williams opened Provident Hospital, the first medical facility to have an interracial staff. He was also one of the first physicians to successfully complete pericardial surgery on a patient. Williams later became chief surgeon of the Freedmens Hospital.
Thomas Never Went To Medical School But He Had A Genius A Stunning Dexterity He Might Have Been A Great Surgeon Instead He Became A Legend
In 1989, Washingtonian
Say his name, and the busiest heart surgeons in the world will stop and talk for an hour. Of course they have time, they say, these men who count time in seconds, who race against the clock. This is about Vivien Thomas. For Vivien theyll make time.
Dr. Denton Cooley has just come out of surgery, and he has 47 minutes between operations. No, you dont need an appointment, his secretary is saying. Dr. Cooleys right here. He wants to talk to you now.
Cooley suddenly is on the line from his Texas Heart Institute in Houston. In a slow Texas drawl he says he just loves being bothered about Vivien. And then, in 47 minutesjust about the time it takes him to do a triple bypasshe tells you about the man who taught him that kind of speed.
No, Vivien Thomas wasnt a doctor, says Cooley. He wasnt even a college graduate. He was just so smart, and so skilled, and so much his own man, that it didnt matter.
And could he operate. Even if youd never seen surgery before, Cooley says, you could do it because Vivien made it look so simple.
Together they devised an operation to save Blue Babies infants born with a heart defect that sends blood past their lungs and Cooley was there, as an intern, for the first one. He remembers the tension in the operating room that November morning in 1944 as Dr. Blalock rebuilt a little girls tiny, twisted heart.
It was enough to make him want to head back to Nashville and take up his carpenters tools again.
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Professor Richmond W Jeremy
Professor Richmond Jeremys medical and cardiology training were at the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
His clinical research career includes a PhD on coronary physiology and a post doctoral research Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore before returning to the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
University of Sydney responsibilities have included service as Associate Dean Sydney, Medical School, Head of Central Clinical School and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Campus Infrastructure and Services.
Professional responsibilities have included service as Editor-in-Chief of Heart Lung and Circulation, membership of Boards on National Heart Foundation , Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.
A New Dawn For Transplant Surgery
Only one American surgeon would continueDr. Norman Shumway. Throughout the 1970’s, he built a team of scientists and doctors to tackle the complex biological problem of tissue rejection in a careful, scientific manner. His team devised a way of spotting rejection attacks, by feeding a catheter into the heart and removing a piece of heart muscle for examination. Only when signs of rejection were seen were doses of the dangerous immuno-suppressive drugs increased. Shumway also benefited from a chance discovery made in another part of the world.
In the soil of Norway’s Hardaangerfjord a fungus was found which contained a compound that would revolutionize transplant surgery. The substance, called cyclosporin, appeared to have exquisite immuno-suppressant propertiescontrolling organ rejection without knocking out all resistance to infection. In the hands of Dr. Shumway, cyclosporin transformed the picture for heart transplant recipients. Hospitals around the world began to re-open their heart transplant units and their patients began to survive and prosper.
But this breakthrough has come with limitations, too. The problem with heart transplants now has become finding enough hearts. Today in the United States alone, two million people suffer from congestive heart failure. When drug treatments fail, transplants are the best hope. But fewer than 2,500 donor hearts are available each year, leaving thousands of patients desperate for an alternative.
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He Received Praise From President Cleveland
While later reports suggest that perhaps another doctor in St. Louis performed a similar surgery two years before Williams, his improvised operation was greeted in the press as a major moment for both Chicago and the medical field altogether. In fact, it was such a widely hailed success that Williams was appointed the next year by President Grover Cleveland to serve as the surgeon-in-chief at Freedmens Hospital in Washington, DC.
The role at Freedmens was a very prestigious commission, which he used to push new innovations and ensure a racially integrated staff. In 1895, to further promote healthcare equity, Williams co-founded the National Medical Association, which served as the equivalent to the white people-only American Medical Association.
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Daniel Hale Williams Performed The First Successful Open Heart Surgery During An Emergency Procedure
When James Cornish stumbled into the recently established Provident Hospital one summer night in 1893, he probably wasnt thinking about making history or being part of a seminal moment in both American medical advancement and racial politics. Instead, he was more likely concerned with the significant amount of blood he was losing from the several deep stab wounds in his chest, which clearly required emergency treatment.
Fortunately, Cornish, a young Black man, staggered into the race-inclusive Provident Hospital, the first Black-owned and operated hospital in the United States, during an evening in which its founder, a brilliant surgeon named Daniel Hale Williams, was on the premises. As Cornishs condition worsened, Williams made the bold choice to operate directly on his heart, attempting what was at the time medically unprecedented.
Pioneers Of Heart Surgery
For most of history, the human heart has been regarded as an organ too delicate to tamper with. But daring and innovative doctors from WWII onward, aided by advances such as the heart-lung machine and immuno-suppressant drugs, have ushered in a new era of heart transplants and open-heart surgery.
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During World War II military doctors, facing injury and suffering on a massive scale, pioneered advances in antibiotics, anesthesia, and blood transfusionsadvances that would usher in the age of modern surgery. One of the first doctors to use these medical advancements to gain access to the heart was Dr. Dwight Harken, a young U.S. Army surgeon. Many of Harken’s patients were young soldiers evacuated from the European front with shell fragments and bullets lodged inside their hearts. To leave the shrapnel in was dangerous, but removing it was almost surely fatal. Harken began operating on animals, trying to develop a technique that would allow him to cut into the wall of a still beating heart, insert a finger, locate the shrapnel and remove it. All of his first 14 animals subjects died. Of the second group of 14, half died. Of the third group of 14, only two died. Harken felt ready to try the technique on humans. All of his patients survived, proving that the human heart could be operated upon.
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Opens The First Interracial Hospital
Williams set up his own practice in Chicagos South Side and taught anatomy at his alma mater, also becoming the first African American physician to work for the citys street railway system. Williams who was called Dr. Dan by patients adopted sterilization procedures for his office informed by the recent findings on germ transmission and prevention from Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister.
Due to the discrimination of the day, African American citizens were still barred from being admitted to hospitals and Black doctors were refused staff positions. Firmly believing this needed to change, in May 1891, Williams opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the nations first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had a racially integrated staff. The facility, where Williams worked as a surgeon, was publicly championed by famed abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass.
Williams Largely Improvised During The Successful Surgery
Two years after the hospital opened, Cornish, a train expressman, took his fateful stumble into Provident, deeply wounded and rapidly losing blood. Hed been in a bad bar brawl and someone had plunged a knife into his chest several times, and as Cornish slipped into shock, it was clear that proven methods of treatment would not save him.
Drastic action had to be taken. With six doctors watching him, Williams applied early anesthesia and began carefully exploring Cornishs chest cavity. He discovered a damaged left internal mammary artery, stitched it up with a suture and found a stab wound near the right coronary artery. With the heart still beating something now circumvented in open-heart surgery by redirecting blood flow Williams was forced to use forceps to steady the organ. He then sewed the wound back together before stitching Cornishs chest closed.
Cornish not only survived but after 51 days of recuperation, he left the hospital fully recovered. He would live another 20 years, a walking miracle that foretold the future of medicine.
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The History Of Pediatric Cardiology At Yale
1947:Dr. Ruth Whittemore sets up the first pediatric cardiology referral center in New England at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
1949: Yale medical student William Sewell builds the forerunner of the artificial heart.
1956:Dr. William Glenn performs Connecticut’s first open heart surgery.
1958: Dr. Glenn develops a surgical technique that greatly improves the survival rate of patients with congenital cardiac malformations. The “Glenn Shunt” connects the superior vena cava directly into the lung artery, allowing blood to partially bypass the right heart, obtain oxygen in the lungs and provide the body with oxygenated blood.
1959-64: Dr. Glenn and associates pioneer the world’s first radiofrequency-powered cardiac and diaphragmatic pacemakers for use in children.
1960’s: Dr. Horace Stansel operates on pediatric heart patients at Yale. The Damus-Kaye-Stansel procedure later becomes a key component of many pediatric cardiac procedures.
1970’s: Yale’s Dr. Michael Berman develops a special “balloon tip” catheter that allows physicians to navigate safely in the heart during cardiac catheterization procedures. The Berman catheter remains a staple catheter for angiographic studies in heart disease throughout the world.
1980’s: Yale School of Medicine physicians and researchers develop techniques for use of human heart valves in children with congenital defects.
- Yale School of Medicine-Section of Pediatric CardiologyP.O. Box 208064
Celebrating Achievements Paying Tribute To The Past
Cardiac surgery is a complex intervention and success has depended on effective teamwork, both within and between organisations. Patient outcomes have dramatically improved. The days when it was touch and go whether someone would come out of the operating room are long past. This is a very different environment to that of 40 years ago, especially in my field of congenital heart surgery.
The patients who required heart surgery in the early years of the NHS were very, very brave. Of course, as results have improved, so have peoples expectations. Surgeons should be ruthlessly honest about the way that patients are advised about their treatment options. The expectation of many people today is that they can have an operation with a predictably perfect outcome that sadly isnt always the reality.
But when you think of the great names associated with Royal Brompton, for example Paul Wood, Russell Brock, Magdi Yacoub and Jane Somerville, patient outcomes have improved massively compared to those which could have been anticipated in the 1950s.
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The First Heart Operation
The patient was a young black man named James Cornish. He had been rushed to Provident Hospital on the South Side with a knife wound in his chest from a barroom brawl. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams–a founder of Provident, which had opened two years previously as the city’s first interracial hospital–knew Cornish was bleeding to death. On this hot summer night, Williams performed a desperate operation that helped set the stage for modern surgery.
Medical textbooks of the time said that operating on a human heart was too dangerous, and there was no precedent for opening the chest. But “Dr. Dan,” despite having no X-rays, antibiotics, adequate anesthesia and other tools of modern surgery, stepped into that medical no-man’s-land. With a scalpel, he cut a small hole in Cornish’s chest, carefully picking his way past nerves, muscle, blood vessels and ribs until he reached the rapidly beating heart. Exploring the wound, Williams found a severed artery. He closed it with sutures, but then discerned an inch-long gash in the pericardium, the tough sac that surrounds the heart. The heart itself had only been nicked and did not need sutures. But the damaged sac had to be closed. With Cornish’s heart beating 130 times a minute beneath his nimble fingers, Williams closed the wound with catgut.
How Often Does This Happen
Extremely rarely, surgeons said. At the University of Michigan Hospital, which does thousands of open-heart surgeries annually, tamponade occurs once every several years, Dr. Haft said. It is so rare that medical staff may not look for it.
You have to have a team that is prepared to look for it, he said.
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Associate Professor Chris Cao
After completing his medical degree at the University of New South Wales with First Class Honours, Christopher attended his pre-internship at Yale University, USA. He scored 99/99 for his United States Medical Licensing Exam, and completed his Cardiothoracic surgical training in Sydney. Concurrently, Christopher completed his PhD degree with Sydney University, focusing on the surgical management of lung and pleural diseases.
After completing his surgical training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Christopher was invited to a Fellowship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, one of the largest cancer centres in the world. This was followed by a Fellowship in New York University, where he was asked to join the Faculty in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. His fellowship was focused on robotic and minimally invasive thoracic surgery, treating lung cancers, mediastinal tumours, mesothelioma, and other lung-related diseases. During his 18-month Fellowship at MSKCC and NYU, Christopher was fortunate to work with some of the leading international surgeons, gaining invaluable clinical and academic experience.
He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, and works as a Consultant Surgeon at Lifehouse, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital, and Macquarie University Hospital.
Innovations In Heart Medicine
In 1944, doctors at Johns Hopkins performed the surgery that opened the door to today’s heart surgery. Working together, The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s chief surgeon, Alfred Blalock, lab supervisor Vivien Thomas, chief surgical resident William Longmire, surgical intern Denton Cooley, nurse Charlotte Mitchell and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig devised a means to improve blood oxygenation by connecting one of the heart’s major arteries with another feeding into the lungs.
Known as the Blue Baby operation, the procedure was first performed on a tiny, 18-month-old girl suffering from tetralogy of Fallot , a combination of heart defects that kept her blood so starved for oxygen that she appeared blue. In time, the Blue Baby operation not only helped save the lives of thousands of similarly afflicted children around the world, but also opened the door to now-familiar procedures like coronary bypass surgery.
In the 1950s, doctors and scientists at Johns Hopkins developed the first cardiac defibrillator and the technique for manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. While electric defibrillators are a familiar presence of hospital emergency rooms and ambulances, CPR has been credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
Alfred Blalock and his surgical team, performing one of the first shunts.
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