Partners of the Heart

Against the backdrop of segregation, Vivien Thomas, a black carpenter’s apprentice with a genius for surgery, and Dr. Alfred Blalock, a renowned white surgeon, dared to defy medical gospel by forging a partnership that changed the course of medical history.

The two men’s work together led to one of the century’s major breakthroughs – a daring heart operation that has saved thousands of children afflicted with a congenital heart defect called “Blue Baby Syndrome.” With only a high school degree, Thomas became a cardiac pioneer and a teacher to two generations of America’s premiere heart surgeons at a time when he himself could not become one. His journey is a compelling, often overlooked American story of personal triumph over the strictures of his time.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Partners of the Heart was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and was broadcast on PBS’ American Experience. In 2015, Partners of the Heart was highlighted as one of the top 50 projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities during their 50th anniversary celebration.

Watch Partners of the Heart now On-Demand.