From the title of this movie, Something the Lord Made, one would think this is a religious movie, but really it is a movie about racism in the 1930s; and how one man rose above it all. The man in question was Vivien Thomas, a black man in his twenties living in Nashville in 1930. Vivien Thomas was unhappy at his current job and asked a friend for help. His friend worked at a medical research center where doctors and lab technicians operated on dogs. Vivien’s friend helped him get hired for a job cleaning the cages of the dogs. The Doctor that hired Vivien, Dr. Alfred Blalock, expected Vivien to turn down the job when he saw the dog’s cages, but this job paid more than Vivien’s previous job; and he took the job.
Vivien Thomas is a highly intelligent man. We start to learn about Vivien’s intelligence when he starts reading Dr. Blalock’s medical books on his breaks. One day Dr. Blalock observes Vivien reading one of his anatomy books, and Dr. Blalock, out of curiosity, starts questioning Vivien. He learns that Vivien has plans to go to medical school. Dr. Blalock tests Vivien with some common medical knowledge and Vivien answers all the questions correctly. Dr. Blalock is impressed.
Dr. Blalock starts to give Vivien a lot of responsibility. Vivien starts to oversee the anesthesia when they operate on dogs. Some of the doctors and other lab technicians make fun of the fact that Dr. Blalock is working with Vivien, a black man, but this time period was a period in American history where people were segregated. Blacks could not use the same bathrooms as whites, they could not use the same water faucets, and they certainly could not be an anesthesiologist.
One day Dr. Blalock is at an evening party with the other doctors, and Vivien was there too; but not as a guest, as a food server. Vivien had to make ends meet, as he was married with children, and he took on odd jobs to help pay the rent. It was not uncommon for Vivien to be at such an event as a food server. Dr. Blalock and his collogues start discussing blue baby syndrome, where babies turn blue because they are not receiving enough oxygen in the blood.
During this time period doctors believed that you could not operate on the heart. To operate on someone’s heart would surely result in death. It was very taboo to operate on the heart, but Dr. Blalock was a very progressive man; and he starts to think about this blue baby problem and possible solutions. The other doctors think this is a crazy idea but to that Dr. Blalock says, “where you all see risks, I see opportunity”.
“where you all see risks, I see opportunity”
Dr. Blalock and Vivien go to work. They work 16-hour days to try and solve this blue baby medical issue. Dr. Blalock heavily relies on Vivien. At times it seems like Vivien is the doctor and he is leading Dr. Blalock to the answers. The two men work very well together and Dr. Blalock trusts Vivien immensely. All their research pays off and they come to a surgical solution.
A couple brings their baby into Hopkins hospital because of blue baby syndrome. There currently is no cure but Br. Blalock, who is a surgeon at Hopkins, meets with the parents and he tells them that he and his team have found a cure, but they have only operated on dogs. The couple thinks long and hard about this, but soon their baby is faced with death and they have no other option. The surgery is scheduled, and this will make history as this is the first-time surgery will be done on a human heart.
Dr. Blalock has Vivien scrub in for the surgery. The other doctors cannot believe Vivien is scrubbing in for the surgery. This also makes history, the first black man to operate on a human heart. As usual Vivien and Dr. Blalock are a great team. Vivien stands close to Dr. Blalock and in a low voice guides Dr. Blalock verbally through the surgery. The surgery turns out to be a success and the baby is cured!
Vivien is so happy, but one thing he did not expect was he would feel invisible to the world. It was Dr. Blalock who got the praise and awards for the surgery. Newspapers did not even mention Vivien. Dr. Blalock receives numerous awards for this successful surgery, and he never mentions Vivien even though the surgery would not have been a success without Vivien.
Vivien is thirty-five years old, and he has been working for Dr. Blalock for 15 years. Vivien has never attended college, and so he applies to a college for undergraduate. Vivien thought since he had been a part of such groundbreaking medical work that the college would let him test out of many courses so he could fast track his undergraduate, but he learns that he would have to start from the beginning. Vivien does not like that idea and he gives up on college.
Dr. Vivien Thomas
Vivien stays working at Hopkins with Dr. Blalock. It is 1964 and Vivien is now a teacher of many classes at Hopkins. Vivien is a wealth of knowledge. Dr. Blalock passes away in 1964. And John Hopkins realizes what a treasure they have in Vivien Thomas and they give him an honorary doctorate. Finally, Vivien is a doctor. He is Dr. Vivien Thomas. Dr. Vivien Thomas teaches until is death in 1985.
I loved this movie! It truly is a great story of struggle and perseverance. I loved how Vivien’s intelligence and hard work overcame all the obstacles in his life like racism and segregation. And I also loved seeing the friendship between Dr. Blalock, a white man, and Dr. Vivien Thomas who was black. I recommend this movie because it is very inspiring.