Vivien Thomas is Smiling Down from Heaven at Jimmy Kimmel’s Son

I have incredible respect for Jimmy Kimmel for baring his soul in front of millions of people and crying unabashedly at the thought of losing his infant son. Kimmel’s son was born with a congenital anomaly called Tetralogy of Fallot which causes a lack of oxygen to reach the lungs. The story had a happy ending because the problem was corrected with a surgical procedure.


As I listened to Kimmel’s ultimate triumph, I thought back to an HBO show I saw years ago called “Something the Lord Made.

It tells the story about the quintessential “odd couple”: a Caucasian surgeon (Dr. Alan Blalock) and an African American carpenter (Vivien Thomas) who would eventually develop the Blalock-Thomas-Trussig shunt that saved the lives of babies who were known back then as “Blue Babies.”


Thomas wanted to attend medical school but never had the opportunity. However, he would eventually become a surgical technician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and train young surgical resident physicians in training.  I’m certain both Blalock and Thomas are smiling down from Heaven knowing that their procedure saved the life of the son of one of American’s most beloved comedians and humanitarians.  Kimmel’s stock rose exponentially in the accounting system of human integrity when he advocated for the continuance of the Affordable Care Act, citing his newborn son as an example of a child with a pre-existing condition.

Aristotle got it right. As humans, “the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.”  Vivien Thomas saved lives through his gifted hands and that legacy saved the life of the son of one of America’s favorite sons. It doesn’t get any better than that.