Murphy, Jim. Breakthrough! Houghton Mifflin/Clarion 2015 129p $18.99 ISBN 978-0-547-82183-2 ms/hs Nonfiction E-BN
Until the mid-1940s, heart surgery was not a viable option for a patient or a surgeon. When Drs. Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig and surgical assistant Vivien Thomas decided to operate on a “blue baby” as a last resort to save her life, it made medical history. Murphy’s dramatic recounting of the event reads like a thriller. The descriptive narrative discusses the science behind the surgery, explaining the causes of the congenital disease and its almost always fatal results and the development of the specialized tools and equipment necessary to accomplish the surgeons’ goals. It also delves into the social mores of the time. The surgery was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in a still-segregated state. While Blalock receives most of the credit for the surgery, it was Vivien Thomas, an African-American, who did much of the research and designed the surgery, and it was Helen Taussig who pushed for its implementation. The author connects discussions of discrimination against both African-Americans and women in medicine of that period and debates over the merits of animal testing, with a look at the backgrounds of the three people involved. This inspiring chronicle about the surgery and all of the events that led up to it provides an utterly fascinating and compelling history. The book is enhanced by a wealth of primary-source material, black-and-white photographs, and sidebar information. The book ends with copious source notes, a bibliography, and an index.
Summary: This inspiring chronicle of the first “blue baby” surgery and all of the events that led up to it provides a utterly fascinating and compelling history. The book is enhanced by a wealth of primary-source material, black-and-white photographs, and sidebar information.
Heart surgery-History --Susan Ogintz