Daniel Hale Williams was a pioneer surgeon best known for performing one of the first successful open heart surgeries in 1893
|Posted by The Reunion Black Family on February 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM|
Williams, Daniel Hale (1856-1931)
. Williams was born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. His medical career began in 1878 during a two-year apprenticeship in the office of physician, Henry Palmer, in Wisconsin. From 1880 to 1883 Williams attended Chicago Medical College, Northwestern Medical School, and received his M.D.
Immediately after graduation Williams opened his own practice in Chicago. Prior to successfully operating on the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart), Williams in the 1880s became a trailblazer setting high standards in medical procedures and sanitary conditions. In 1891, he co-founded Provident Hospital and Training School Association, which served Chicago’s South Side community and became the first training facility for African American nurses in the U.S. During Williams’ tenure as physician (1891-1912) the hospital grew, largely due to its extremely high success rate in patient recovery (87%). In 1893, Williams’ legend grew as he daringly performed an open heart surgery on a young black man named James Cornish. Williams incredibly opened Cornish’s chest cavity and operated on his heart without the patient dying from infection. At the time this was unheard of. Miraculously, Cornish recovered within 51 days and went on to live for fifty more years.
Nationally recognized, in 1894 Williams was appointed Chief Surgeon at the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. As Chief Surgeon, Williams set visible standards for doctors from all over the world, who came to witness his surgeries and tour the Freedman’s Hospital, which Williams reorganized with a training school for black nurses. Among the numerous honors and awards bestowed to Williams, perhaps the most groundbreaking was his becoming the first Black member of the exclusive American College of Surgeons in 1913.
Sources:Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: Encyclopedia of The African and African American Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005