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This article was published in The American Surgeon Volume 81, Issue 5, February 2015, Pages 118-120.

The published version is available at PMID: 25642870. Copyright © Ingenta


The field of pediatric cardiovascular surgery gained international recognition in 1944 with the first successful correction of a tetralogy of Fallot congenital anomaly in a 15-month-old patient. Dr. Helen Taussig (1898 to 1986), a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recognized the need for the procedure. Dr. Alfred Blalock (1899 to 1964), Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is credited with performing the surgery. However, there is an unsung hero who for many years did not receive a single mention in the medical literature. Vivien Thomas (1910 to 1985) was Dr. Blalock’s research assistant who is said to have stood directly behind him during the ‘‘blue baby’’ procedures, providing Dr. Blalock with support and advice.