On July 9, 1893, the first successful American open-heart surgery was performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
Dr. Williams completed the operation on a young man named James Cornish who had been rushed to Provident Hospital in Chicago with a deep knife wound in his chest. Cornish’s wound had been treated, but he was bleeding internally and would have soon died if not for Williams’ decision to perform surgery. He opened Cornish’s chest cavity and sutured a damaged blood vessel, and a tear in the tissue surrounding the heart (the pericardium).
This surgery was also remarkable because, at a time when many patients died of infections, Williams was pioneering antiseptic techniques. He had opened up the man’s chest, repaired his heart and had done it without causing an infection. James Cornish made a full recovery and lived a long life thanks to Dr. Williams.
James Cornish rests after open heart surgery