(1898 - 1986)
Helen Taussig was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 24, 1898. She was the daughter of a Harvard
economics professor. Helen did not have an easy childhood.
Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was eleven and she had dyslexia which made school more difficult for her. Helen overcame the
dyslexia and went on to attend Radcliffe College. After two years she
transferred to the University of California where she received her degree in
1921. In 1923 she was accepted to John Hopkins Medical school and became
interested in the field of cardiology. Helen received her M.D. in 1927.
Helen became the chief of the heart clinic at John Hopkins. She saw a number of children with heart defects, mostly cyanotic ("blue babies"), and decided that more should be done to try and help them. With a heart surgeon named Blalock, Helen pioneered the Blalock-Taussig operation. The operation was first preformed in 1944 on a one year old child weighing only ten pounds. The operation soon became widely used and gave many infants with heart problems the chance to live normal lives.
In 1947 Helen published her book Congenial Malformations of the Heart. Helen has received a number of awards including seventeen honorary degrees of Doctor of Sciences form universities around the world. In 1964 she was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson. The next year Helen was the first woman president of the American Heart Association. Helen died in a car accident on May 20, 1986. Today John Hopkins has a pediatric cardiac center named after and she is considered the founder of pediatric cardiology.
For more information on Helen Taussig, you can visit the following websites:
|| The National Women's Hall of Fame
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