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Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
January 18, 1858 - August 4, 1931
Surgeon


Daniel Hale Williams was an American surgeon. He was the first African-American cardiologist, and is sometimes attributed with performing the first successful surgery on the heart. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.

Daniel Hale Willams was born and raised in the city of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. He lived with his father who was a "free negro" baraber, his mother and a few brothers and sisters. His family eventually moved to Annapolis, Maryland. Unfortunately, shortly after when Daniel was eleven, his father died. Williams was married in 1898 to Alice Johnson, daughter of sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel and a maid of mixed ancestry. Williams died of a stroke in Idlewild, Michigan in 1931. His Wife, Alice Johnson died in 1924.

Williams is sometimes regarded as the first man to have performed cardiac surgery, though earlier surgeries on the pericardium were performed by Francisco Romero in 1801, Dominique Jean Larrey prior to 1842, and by Henry Dalton in 1891. It should be noted however that while he is still known as the first person to perform an open heart surgery, it is actually more noteworthy that he was the first surgeon to open the chest cavity successfully without the patient dying of infection His procedures would therefore be used as standards for future internal surgeries. Also in 1891, he started the Provident Hospital and training school for nurses in Chicago Illinois. This was established mostly for African-American citizens. In 1893 he repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish, the second on record. He performed this surgery at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on 10 July 1893, a hospital which he founded, and one of the few hospitals that welcomed African Americans. About fifty-five days later, James Cornish recovered from the surgery successfully.

In 1893, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland, Williams was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C., another of the few hospitals that would admit African Americans. In addition to organizing the hospital, Williams also established a training school for African-American nurses at the facility.

Williams was a teacher of Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He worked hard to create more hospitals for African Americans. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for black doctors, and in 1913 he became a charter member and the only black in the American College of Surgeons.

He received honorary degrees from Howard and Willberforce Universtities, was named a charter member of the Amercian College of surgeons and Was a member of the Chicago Surgical Society.

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