July 10, 1893: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams becomes the 2nd person to perform a successful open heart pericardium surgery to repair a wound in the United States. This surgery would not be reported until 1897.
Henry C. Dalton was the 1st person to successfully perform said surgery in 1891. Earlier surgeries on the pericardium, which resulted in the death of the patient, were attempted by Francisco Romero in 1801 and Dominique Jean Larrey in 1810.
Williams repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish. He had been stabbed directly through the left fifth coastal cartilage, had been admitted the previous night, and Williams made the decision to operate the next morning in response to the continued bleeding, cough and “pronounced” symptoms of shock. Williams performed this surgery, without the benefit of penicillin or a blood transfusion, at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on July 10, 1893.
Almost 55 days after the surgery, James Cornish made a successful recovery.
Daniel Hale Williams was the 1st African-American cardiologist. He also founded Provident Hospital, the 1st non-segregated hospital in the United States.
Williams was honored, amongst others, for his achievements in the Stevie Wonder song “Black Man,” from the album Songs in the Key of Life.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Daniel Hale Williams on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
He received honorary degrees from Howard and Wilberforce Universities, was named a charter member of the American College of surgeons, and was a member of the Chicago Surgical Society.
A Pennsylvania State Historical Marker was placed at US 22 eastbound (Blair St., 300 block) in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania commemorating his accomplishments and marking his boyhood home.
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