Today's fact is about Vivien Thomas.

Vivien Theodore Thomas was born August 29, 1910 in New Iberia, Louisiana. He was an African American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome, or cyanotic heart disease. 

He planned to go to college to become a doctor, but the great depression halted that dream in its tracks. Thomas who had to put his education on hold started a job in February of 1930 as a surgical research technician with Dr. Alfred Blalock. After assisting with a few experimental surgery Thomas was starting surgeries on his own within a few weeks. Thomas was classified and paid as a janitor despite the real work he was doing which was equal to that of a postdoctoral researcher.

In 1976 while working at Johns Hopkins University, the school awarded him an honorary doctorate and named him an instructor of surgery for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Remember, this all came without a formal education beyond high school.

Thomas overcame racism and still became a pioneer in cardiac surgery and a teacher of operative techniques to a number of notable surgeons.

Thomas died on November 26, 1985, at age 75 of pancreatic cancer. In 1993, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation instituted the Vivien Thomas Scholarship for Medical Science and Research. In 2004, the Baltimore Public School System opened the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy.

And THAT Is B Mo's Black History Month Fact of The Day!