An operation that brought hope to children and families around the world.

On November 29, 1944, a small, frail child was wheeled into an operating room at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for the first attempt to treat tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart malformation that robs the blood of oxygen. This life-threatening condition is often signaled by a bluish or "cyanotic" cast to the skin, hence the term, blue baby. The procedure joined an artery leaving the heart to an artery leading to the lungs, in an attempt to give the blood a second chance at oxygenation. It was the first blue baby operation and came to be known as the Blalock-Taussig Shunt.

This exhibit marks the 50th anniversary of the procedure,which was celebrated in 1995.


The Operation
Surgeon - Alfred Blalock
Pediatric Cardiologist - Helen B. Taussig
Surgical Technician - Vivien T. Thomas

Frequently Asked Questions
Sources for this Exhibit


The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions