Daniel Hale Williams was born on 18th January 1857 in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. he pursued a medical career that changed the country for African American doctors, both because of his immense skill and his pioneering hospital. His work led his hospital to be publicly championed by Frederick Douglass.
He started his career as a shoemaker apprentice, then later a barber but disliked the work and returned to education where he worked as an apprentice with highly accomplished surgeon, Dr. Henry Palmer. He then completed his training at Chicago Medical College.
Williams, who was known as Dr. Dan, African-American physician to work for the Chicago street railway system. His practise was in the South Side.
At the time African-American citizens were not admitted to hospitals and black staff could not work in them either. Williams changed that by opening Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1891. This was the nations first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had a racially integrated staff.
In 1893 he did something else extraordinary. He operated on a man named James Cornish, who had a severe stab wound to his chest. Williams successfully performed open heart surgery, stitching up Cornish’s membrane around his heart. This was without blood transfusion or modern surgery equipment and procedures! He was the second recorded surgeon to do this!
In 1894, Williams was appointed the chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington D.C. He continued to work hard on improving the medical techniques and profession as well as opportunities for black medical professionals.
In 1926 he suffered a stroke and sadly passed away 5 years later on 4th August 1931.
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