1Louis Wischnewsky / Angelina FratzkeByron Marsh / Ana ZarateCouns 135VincentDecember 15, 2010                            ...
2pediatric cardiologist responds with a simple, but chilling statement: “Get him to the childrenshospital as soon as possi...
3Having a common purpose that was greater than either man, Vivien Thomas looked beyond thediscomforts of the position he h...
4both men quickly realizing that, more than wanting to break paradigms, they both wanted to savelives. This lead to Blaloc...
5The relationship these men had was determined to excel in ethics. Their friendship and worktogether lasted from 1930 to 1...
6forum Thomas was responsible for giving Blalock, and thus Johns Hopkins University (and laterHarvard University), a reaso...
7Alfred Blalock & Vivien Thomas        1910- 1985
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Vivien Thomas Speech v4b

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This document should accompany the slide show "vivien thomas ppt". The group project entailed giving a biography of someone that used the Relational Leadership theory, knowingly or unknowingly, in accomplishing their goals. This theory of leadership & teamwork did not exist during Thomas' time, but it is very possible his relationship with Alfred Blalock may have been among the many studied to develop the theory.

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  • Thanks for the comments. I agree with you 100%. Thomas had an enormous role in modern medicine, one that is still over-looked today. I am not in the medical profession, but I was a blue-baby myself and Denton Cooley was the surgeon that worked on me when I was 2 years old. Curiosity lead me to looking into Cooley and tetrology of Fallot and that's how I learned about the amazing Vivien Thomas.
    Thanks for taking a look
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  • I am a Cardiothoracic Surgeon; and I have experience in Paediatric Cardiac Surgery. I do think that the Blalock-Taussig Operation should be renamed and be called as The Blalock-Thomas-Taussig Operation. Vivien Thomas’s contribution was significant; and it is about time the medical profession came around to correcting past injustice resulting from racism. Opoku-Ware Mensah
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Vivien Thomas Speech v4b

  1. 1. 1Louis Wischnewsky / Angelina FratzkeByron Marsh / Ana ZarateCouns 135VincentDecember 15, 2010 Biography of Leadership: Vivien ThomasHeres the situation. You live in the deep south where race relations are sometimes still tense.You are a twenty-two year old southern belle. Youve just celebrated your third anniversary withyour husband. He now has a very labor intensive job working lots of overtime but hes an armyspecial forces veteran. You have a two year old child. Your first-born and your husband of threeyears have just moved into a new house. Its a good time, but its also touch and go as yourhusband recovers from what he saw during war while working harder than he should have to. Life is GreatOne day, youre precious son takes a little long to wake up. When he does wake up, hes verypale. Hes not running a fever. He doesnt feel sick. As the morning progresses, something youcould never imagine begins to happen – youre little boy begins to turn bluish.When you call your obstetrician, he gives you another doctor to call, a pediatric cardiologist. The
  2. 2. 2pediatric cardiologist responds with a simple, but chilling statement: “Get him to the childrenshospital as soon as possible: youre son is dying.According to the National Institute of Health, a study by the Pediatric Heart Disease ClinicalResearch Network says that approximately 32,000 children a year are born with some sort ofheart defect. While much of this can be predicted by hereditary traits, congenital heart disease isstill very much unpredictable. If youre not open to race relations, that presents an enormousproblem for you.Today were going to learn about a little known pioneer in the medical field that was also nearly acentury ahead of modern leadership theory and demonstrated that saving lives requiredRelational Team work, not racial biases.Vivien Thomas was an African-American born in 1910 in Tennessee and lived until 1985.
  3. 3. 3Having a common purpose that was greater than either man, Vivien Thomas looked beyond thediscomforts of the position he had with his mentor, Dr. Alfred Blalock.Though he was technically subordinate to Dr. Blalock, Thomas was so included in the team thatothers working with them could not tell who was actually in charge.While neither Thomas nor Blalock liked nor appreciated the paradigm that did not allow blacksurgeons, both men followed the rules determined to remain ethical in all their work.Blalock might have empowered Thomas to be an equal in their work and lab, but Thomasembraced and took that empowerment with equal determination.To remain ethical in their goals, Thomas and Blalock developed a process that achieved theirgoal beyond their broad imaginations.Vivien Thomas was born in 1910 in Tennessee where, fifty years earlier, he would have been aslave. His father was a carpenter and after high school, Vivien also worked as a carpenter.Because the Great Depression had arrived, however, he quickly found himself doing odd jobsworking with his hands. Some believe it was this background of using his hands often forintricate wood work that gave his hands the skills he would use in his lifes work. After losing hissavings he had planned to use to go to school, Thomas eventually answered a help wanted call ata lab at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Alfred Blalock, in interviewing Thomas, was questionedabout his decision to hire a 19 year old black man that had no formal medical experience at all.Blalock liked Thomas professional demeanor. Not even Blalock expected his decision to hireThomas would literally change the world.Blalock made it clear to everyone that knew him, including Thomas, that he wanted to break asmany medical paradigms as possible. Thomas initially just wanted to break the paradigm of notallowing blacks in the operating room. Blalock at first was insistent that Thomas simply followBlalocks instructions in the lab while Blalock was in the classroom teaching. However, Thomastook this opportunity to begin book-learning everything he could about medicine. This lead to
  4. 4. 4both men quickly realizing that, more than wanting to break paradigms, they both wanted to savelives. This lead to Blalock using his status to find work at universities that would accommodateThomas. None would fully accommodate Thomas or Blalock, but Thomas grasped that Blalockwas doing the best he could. And, as Blalock eventually explained to Thomas, they could eithermake strides in medical research or strides in race relations. They chose, as their purpose, thegreater cause: saving lives.The decision to enter new frontiers in the medical field was mutual. By the point that Thomasgrew uneasy with the reality that he was not getting credit, and thus income and status, for theachievements the two men were making, he and Blalock had become close friends. During thefirst, experimental surgery to fix a congenital defect in a young girl, Blalock broke the paradigmof not allowing blacks into the operating rooms of Johns Hopkins University. He insisted hewould not begin the surgery until Thomas was at his side. Blalock went on to insist his friend andcolleague be at his side for the first 100 experimental congenital heart defect surgeries. In fact,Blalock would tell anyone that stood next to him, “That spot is for Vivien only.” During theirrelationship, Thomas accepted that he would never get a PHD. However, he allowed Blalock totake credit for their successes. Blalock was the scientist that came up with new ideas andquestioned medical paradigms, and Thomas was the scientist that found ways to make themwork.
  5. 5. 5The relationship these men had was determined to excel in ethics. Their friendship and worktogether lasted from 1930 to 1964 when Dr. Blalock passed away. Both being from the south andworking in the south, they both knew the social standards of their day. It was pointed out that inthe lab they could work, drink, and be merry together. Outside the lab, though, it was unethicalfor professional whites and blacks to intermingle. That was the social standard of the time. Sadly,these two men maintained that ethical standard, even though it is clear it was something thatbothered both of them. As we mentioned earlier, they had a very high goal in mind. That goalwas to save lives and they left fixing the social injustice of segregation to others.Their relationship relied on empowering each other and taking power. Because Alfred Blalockhad allowed Thomas to work freely, as an equal in the lab, both men accomplished the greatthings they achieved together. Because Thomas did not let his status as a black man keep himfrom taking the power, the initiative to work freely in the lab, both men have changed the world.By now, it should be apparent these men had a clearly defined process that worked beautifully.Blalock was not without actual participation in Thomas accomplishments. Blalock wasconsidered the thinker in the relationship. He was the one that would ask, for example, whatwould happen if we put a stint in this place? Thomas was a thinker, too, but his part of theprocess involved finding ways to make Blalocks ideas work. Another part of the relationshipwas that Blalock would find the forum to do the work and was responsible for maintaining that
  6. 6. 6forum Thomas was responsible for giving Blalock, and thus Johns Hopkins University (and laterHarvard University), a reason to maintain that forum.As a result of this relationship, millions of lives around the world have been saved and changed.Dr. Denton Cooley once admired Vivien Thomas by noting that Thomas was decades ahead ofhis time in surgical cardiology. However, we can see today that he was a century ahead of histime in leadership, setting a solid and easy to recognize example of Relational Leadership Theoryin practice.Today we learned about the life of Dr. Thomas. We see that he shared a common purpose ofsaving lives. He was inclusive and was included in all the work he did. In spite of the great painhe and Blalock felt, they maintained the ethical standard of the day. The relationship succeededbecause both men empowered each other. As a result, we see a clearly defined process that, ifachievable in the mid-1900s, can certainly be mimicked today.Vivien Thomass life and work gives us unquestionable proof that racial diversity works. His lifegoes beyond that, though. He inspires us to look beyond ourselves and consider the lives of tensof thousands of people born in this country each year … and millions of people worldwide.The good news for that young mother we mentioned earlier? Well, the good news is that thepediatric cardiologist she called happened to be a former student of Blalock and Thomas. Notonly was the cardiologist a student, but so was the surgeon.
  7. 7. 7Alfred Blalock & Vivien Thomas 1910- 1985

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