Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

by Gwendolyn Hooks and Colin Bootman

“Needles didn’t scare Vivien Thomas. In fact, he designed the ones lying... read more

“Needles didn’t scare Vivien Thomas. In fact, he designed the ones lying on the operating table in front of him.” Working with Dr. Alfred Blalock of Vanderbilt and then Johns Hopkins University, African American Vivien Thomas was a skilled technician, inventor and teacher who developed medical techniques and the equipment needed to implement them. For decades, he also taught doctors and medical students. And for decades his work went publicly unrecognized. In 1944, when Blalock pioneered surgery to save “blue babies,” he did so using Vivien’s process and equipment, with Vivien talking him through the surgery. But Vivien wasn’t mentioned in the accolades that followed. While racism was a fact of Vivien’s life and career, his self-respect, intelligence, and dignity are the focus of a work that concludes with the much-deserved recognition he received at Johns Hopkins, where his portrait now hangs with those of other distinguished faculty. More about Vivien, tetralogy of Fallot (“blue baby syndrome”), a glossary, and sources are included in this deftly written and illustrated picture-book biography. (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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