Alfred Blalock: Biography & Quotes

Instructor: Tara Schickel

Tara has taught staff nursing courses and has a master's degree in public health.

This lesson will study the personal and professional life of Dr. Alfred Blalock. We will examine the exciting medical breakthroughs he developed, as well as his family life. This lesson will also introduce us to the film that was created to depict his work in surgery.

Alfred Blalock

There are so many amazing life-saving surgical procedures that save countless lives every day. Have you ever wondered who came up with the idea to do these procedures, or how they figured out that they would work? Like with any type of invention a great amount of creativity, experimentation, and effort goes into developing these medical breakthroughs. Today, we are going to discuss the life and work of one of these great medical inventors, Alfred Blalock.

The Personal Life of Alfred Blalock

Alfred Blalock was born on April 5th, 1899 in Georgia. He had the great fortune to be born into a wealthy family. His father was a successful businessman, but as Blalock became older, he decided he didn't want to pursue a career in his father's footsteps. Instead, he chose a medical career. He obtained his degree from John Hopkins School of Medicine and went on to eventually narrow his scope to surgery. In 1930, he married Mary Chambers O'Bryan and had three children with her. Unfortunately, Mary passed away after multiple respiratory issues. After her death, Blalock married Alice Waters. Waters had been a beloved neighbor to the Blalocks prior to Mary's passing. Blalock's personal hobbies included fishing, boating, tennis, and golfing. Dr. Blalock passed away at the young age of 65 years old after a battle with cancer. Throughout his life, his health had not always been great. He suffered many battles with tuberculosis.

The Work and Medical Discoveries of Alfred Blalock

Blalock contributed a great deal to the medical community. He is most noted for his research into shock and Tetralogy of Fallot. He made huge discoveries that helped patients suffering from each of these horrible conditions. To provide some clarification shock is defined as a condition typically caused by a sudden decrease in blood flow throughout the body. Due to this rapid decrease in blood flow, oxygen cannot properly be delivered to the body's cells. He discovered shock during some experiments he was conducting on lab animals. He noticed that the lab animals that lost a lot of blood during surgery became very unstable and did poorly. He developed the concept of delivering blood transfusions to patients who lost blood and went into shock. Through this treatment, he was able to save many victims, particularly those who became injured on the battlefield.

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