Something the Lord Made

Something the Lord Made, the story of two pioneers of open heart surgery, was an excellent film.  When Dr. Alan Blaylock (Alan Rickman) hired Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) to be his lab assistant he never anticipated the pivotal role Thomas would play in his medical research.  When Dr. Blaylock inspects a shunt and bypass performed by Thomas,  he exclaims, “this looks like something the Lord made.”

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.

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9 thoughts on “Something the Lord Made

  1. The joys of blogging, my friend.  I think Janie at Seasonal Soundings recommended this a while back.  I would have credited it to her, but I didn’t have time to search through her blog to look.  BTW, we watched Elizabeth over the weekend; you are the one who told me about it. It was good, an interesting mix of romance and war that served up an interesting platter for both the guys and girls in the room.  I kept crowing about her speech before the Armada – “wait till you hear her guys: ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.'” Alas, that whole part was cut!!  A speech as stirring as Henry V’s at Agincourt, cut as thin as angel hair pasta!  They didn’t show the aftermath of Queen Mary’s execution: when the executioner picked up her head to show the crowd, it was revealed that she was wearing a hairpiece, um, because the hairpiece remained in the man’s hand and the head didn’t.  It is a wretched life when you know the historical details which the movie misses…

  2. The movie sounds wonderful.  Several years ago I watched Partners of the Heart, a PBS rendition of this story…if I remember correctly.
    My mother didnt care for the movie, Elizabeth….because of the missing historical parts.   She’s too knowledge, as you are 🙂

  3. I’ll pray for your friend. Is the surgery related to a condition called mitral valve prolapse? I ask because I have that but don’t know much about it except that if I feel like I’m having a heart attack, I’m probably not — I was diagnosed after two days in a hospital because the condition mimics heart attack symptoms. ~Laurie

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