TINY STITCHES: THE LIFE OF MEDICAL PIONEER VIVIEN THOMASFall 2016 Non-Fiction
Born in 1910, Vivien Thomas, the son of a carpenter, grew up in the segregated south in Nashville, Tennessee. He learned to measure, cut, and seamlessly fit pieces together. He wanted to attend Nashville's medical school for African Americans and saved his money toward this goal. When the banks crashed in 1929, his savings - and dreams - were lost. Thomas ultimately found a job with Dr. Blalock at the Vanderbilt medical school where he became the only black medical researcher at this white institution. When Dr. Blalock became Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he insisted that Vivien Thomas come with him. There Dr. Helen Taussig approached Dr. Blalock to help rescue babies born with heart defects. Dr. Blalock turned this assignment over to Thomas who designed tiny needles and instruments to facilitate infant cardiac surgery. Dr. Blalock, with Vivien Thomas at his side, pioneered the successful surgery, but Thomas did not receive the credit he was due until late in his life.
With soft but realistic watercolor illustrations flowing across double-page spreads, Vivien Thomas' story unfolds, giving this brilliant and capable man a well-deserved tribute.