Something the Lord Made
directed by Joseph Sargent
(HBO, 2004)

This 2004 made-for-television film details the lives of Drs. Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) and Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman), who were pioneers in the field of cardiac surgery.

Prior to the 1940s, it was theorized that touching the human heart would result in instant death. These two doctors' work in conjunction with Dr. Helen Taussig, as well as in emergency surgeries begun in World War II, gave rise to the discipline of cardiology.

Thomas began working for Blalock in 1929 at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN. At the time, Blalock was studying trauma. Blalock and Thomas together developed the procedure to transfuse blood to restore life to trauma patients.

That work took the pair of them to Johns Hopkins, where Blalock was challenged by Taussig to help "blue babies" -- babies born with cyanotic conditions including certain heart defects. The two pioneered both the instruments and techniques including sutures that "grow" that enabled blue babies to live.

It's no surprise this film won an Emmy in 2004. Something the Lord Made is a fascinating historical depiction of a pioneering time in our history both scientifically and racially. Both Def and Rickman did an excellent job in their roles, literally losing their own personae in their acting.

review by
Becky Kyle

3 May 2008

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