Saturday, March 12, 2016

Murphy, Jim. Breakthrough!

Murphy, Jim.  Breakthrough!   Houghton Mifflin/Clarion  2015  129p  $18.99  ISBN 978-0-547-82183-2  ms/hs  Nonfiction  E-BN     

Until recently, heart surgery was largely unheard of, and operating on an infant was not in the realm of anyone’s imagination.  In 1944, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital attempted what would be one of the first successful heart operations on an 18-month-old girl suffering from a heart defect known as blue baby syndrome.”  Dr. Alfred Blalock, chief surgeon, who was internationally famous for his work on treating shock, conducted the operation.  Dr. Helen Taussig was the head of the pediatric cardiac unit who brought the issue of blue baby syndrome, and a possible surgical solution, to the attention of Dr. Blalock.  They were aided in their work by Vivien Thomas, Blalock’s African-American lab assistant. Thomas was not college educated, but had the experience to provide a significant amount of input into the project, and she helped develop the surgical strategy by practicing on dogs.  The field was so new that the team had to develop many of their own tools, ensuring they were the appropriate size for use on pediatric patients.  The surgery was successful, and it paved the way for a cure for the heart defect and confidence in further investigation into cardiac surgery and research.  Thomas’s contributions have been largely overlooked, while Drs. Blalock and Taussig gained international fame and professional rewards for their work.  However, the surgeons who were later trained by the assistant with no formal medical education spoke highly of his skill and contributions to the field.  This book is a must for all middle- and high-school collections.
Summary: A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital performs one of the first successful heart surgeries on an 18-month-old and finds a cure for a heart defect known as blue baby syndrome. 

Heart surgery, Medicine-Surgery                       --Stephanie Pennucci

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