• About Dr. Vivien Theodore Thomas

    Portrait of Dr. Vivien T. Thomas

    Vivien T. Thomas was an extraordinary man who bettered society through his diligent pursuit of medical advances. Although he was denied the opportunity to attend medical school, Thomas independently persevered in the study of medicine. He was often mistreated, but he continued to develop his understanding of medicine, working in obscurity at Johns Hopkins under the tutelage of Dr. Alfred Blalock. In 1941, Thomas began developing the technique and technology required for the first successful heart surgery ever performed. He continued to work diligently even when Blalock was credited for this groundbreaking achievement.He humbly persevered for the sake of the betterment of all human life, never letting the lack of recognition discourage his pursuits. Johns Hopkins later honored Thomas with an honorary degree, to commend him for the developments he made in medicine. His portrait, a replica of one that hangs in our halls of the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, was generously donated by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute Department of Surgery. It was presented by Dr. Julie A. Freischlag, a surgeon and leader who continues the legacy of Dr. Vivien T. Thomas daily.