The drama of overcoming hurdles and performing the first heart surgery on a “blue baby” kept my interest from flagging; however, the personal dilemma of Vivien Thomas and his response was riveting. He had been given unprecedented freedom as a black man who was a brilliant but uneducated assistant, unofficially an apprentice surgeon. However, he was grossly underpaid and received no recognition for his medical breakthroughs. Watching his struggle to humbly stand up for his rights and provide for his family and seeing the honor ultimately given to him by Johns Hopkins University was the thrill of this movie.
Heart surgery is so common today that we take it for granted. My good friend Sue is getting a mitral valve repair, a five hour heart surgery, this afternoon at Stanford. The surgeon who slices open and remodels her heart is the descendant, medically speaking, of Dr. Blaylock and (hon.) Dr. Thomas. Highly recommended.