On November 29, 1944, Drs. Blalock and Taussig decided to proceed with
the anastomosis, or joining, of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary
artery in a cyanotic child.
Dr. Helen Taussig was convinced that the operation would help the patient,and
despite the technical problems of operating on a very small and very
ill child, Dr. Alfred Blalock's skill was equal to the task. Blalock
worked with his surgical team and his invaluable assistant Vivien T. Thomas, who
stood behind Blalock and offered a number of helpful suggestions in
regard to the technique employed.
The tiny child who had been at such great risk survived the operation
and slowly improved. Over the succeeding days she gradually became
blue. By the end of the second postoperative week it was clear she
(View a copy of Dr. Blalock's surgical record page one, page two)
The child's mother later recalled,
When I saw Eileen for the first time, it was like a miracle...
I was beside myself with happiness.
Operations that Followed...
Dr. Blalock and his surgical team,
performing an early procedure.
By the third time the procedure was performed, the success of the operation
had become dramatically apparent. Dr. Taussig described the third patient
to receive the landmark operation "as an utterly miserable, small
six-year old boy who was no longer able to walk." His skin was intensely
blue, his lips deep purple. Just after the final stitches were tied
and the clamps released, the anesthesiologist called out, "The boy's
a lovely color now!" Dr. Taussig remembered the thrill of walking around
to the head of the operating table to see those "lovely normal pink
lips." She reported that after his recovery from the operation he
was a happy, active child.
In 1945, the first scientific paper describing the original three operations
appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and
had immediate worldwide impact.
The Journal of the American Medical Association
(128:189, May 19, 1945)
Copyright 1945 American Medical Association.
In the years that followed thousands of cyanotic children were
helped by the operation. Doctors from all over the world traveled to The Johns Hopkins Hospital
to learn from Dr. Taussig how to make the diagnosis and from Dr. Blalock
how to perform the anastomosis.
The blue-baby operation brought fame to both
Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig.
Continue with Exhibit