Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was a pioneering African American surgeon and first surgeon to perform an open-heart surgery on a human. Born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, he faced racial discrimination but persevered to become a prominent figure in the medical field.

Williams graduated from Chicago Medical College in 1883, earning acclaim for his skills and dedication. In 1893, he founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in Chicago, the first interracial hospital and nursing school in the United States. He was also one of the earliest adopters of sterilization during surgeries after the discovery of germ theory.

One of Dr. Williams’ most notable achievements occurred in 1893 when he performed the first successful open-heart surgery on James Cornish, a young man with a stab wound to the chest. He repaired the pericardium and torn arteries and saved the patient’s life without the use of any modern surgical technology.

Throughout his career, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams advocated for equal opportunities for African American medical professionals. He co-founded the National Medical Association in 1895 as black medical professionals were excluded from the American Medical Association. He later broke down barriers by becoming the first black member of the American College of Surgeons.

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