Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858 – August 4, 1931) was an American surgeon. He was the first African-American cardiologist, and performed one of the first successful cardiac surgeries in the United States. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.
In 1893, Williams continued to make history when he operated on James Cornish, a man with a severe stab wound to his chest who was brought to Provident. Without the benefits of a blood transfusion or modern surgical procedures, Williams successfully sutured Cornish’s pericardium (the membranous sac enclosing the heart), becoming the first person to perform open-heart surgery. Cornish lived for many years after the operation.
In 1894, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed the chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital, which provided care for formerly enslaved African Americans. The facility had fallen into deep neglect and had a high mortality rate. Williams worked diligently on revitalization, improving surgical procedures, increasing institutional specialization, allowing public viewing of surgeries, launching ambulance services and adding a multiracial staff, continuing to provide opportunities for black physicians and nursing students.
Carolyn Strong, BulliesStink Founder & Author
Carolyn Strong, MAT MEd