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Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery: Vivien Thomas and His Work With Alfred Blalock

David C. Sabiston, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(1):87-88. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390010091041.
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For one who had the privilege of being a student, coworker, and later a colleague of Vivien Thomas, reading this autobiography is an extraordinary experience. Although the reviewer worked with him in the laboratory for 20 years, often on a daily basis, many features of this unique and compelling story have been revealed for the first time.

Vivien Thomas has written an engaging account of his life of 75 years, and few can doubt that he was a major contributor throughout his entire career. Following graduation from high-school in 1929, he had planned to enter Fisk University in Nashville, but the depression necessitated a crucial change in plans. He describes in detail his first meeting with Alfred Blalock in the Experimental Surgery Laboratory at Vanderbilt when seeking a position as a technician. Vivien describes in detail their first meeting and the deep impression he obtained about Dr Blalock's certainty in


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