Daniel Hale Williams (1856–1931) performed the world’s first successful open heart operation on July 9, 1893. The open heart surgery took place at Provident Hospital in Chicago, a hospital that Williams founded. He opened the chest of James Cornish, a laborer who had been stabbed, found the pericardial sac, emptied it of blood, and successfully sutured it. “Doctor Dan” was a founder and first vice president of the National Medical Association, and the first and only black invited to become a charter member of the American College of Surgeons in 1913. Born in Hollidays-burg, Pennsylvania, Williams graduated in 1883 from the Chicago Medical College. He founded Provident Hospital in 1891, the nation’s first interracial hospital. He was the first black on the Illinois State Board of Health in 1889, and in 1893 he was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman’s Hospital, where he reorganized the services and established a nursing school. Williams had two main interests: the NAACP and the construction of hospitals and training schools for African-American doctors and nurses.
The first black doctor to perform open heart surgery was Daniel Hale Williams.