Honored for her contributions to the field of cardiology, Helen B. Taussig was a highly respected medical researcher and practitioner.
A leading authority on congenital heart defects, she helped develop the field of pediatric cardiology and pioneered surgical treatments that have saved countless lives.
Helen B. Taussig: Early Life
Born in 1899 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Taussig was the daughter of two accomplished academics.
Her father, Edward Taussig, was a renowned economist and her mother, Helen Taussig, was a noted educator.
When she was just five years old, Taussig contracted diphtheria, which left her deaf in one ear. Despite this setback, she went on to excel in school and was valedictorian of her high school class.
Taussig went on to study at Radcliffe College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1920.
Helen B. Taussig: Medical Career At Johns Hopkins
She then attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she earned her medical degree in 1924. After completing an internship and residency at Johns Hopkins, Taussig became a faculty member at the university in 1929.
In the 1930s, Taussig began to focus her research on congenital heart defects. She was particularly interested in a condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot, which is a combination of four heart defects that can lead to cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin caused by insufficient oxygen in the blood).
Taussig was instrumental in developing a surgical procedure known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt, which is used to treat Tetralogy of Fallot and other congenital heart defects.
During World War II, Taussig served as a consultant to the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
After the war, she returned to Johns Hopkins, where she continued to treat patients and conduct research.
In 1947, she helped establish the first division of pediatric cardiology in the United States.
Helen B. Taussig: Later Life & Death
Taussig retired from Johns Hopkins in 1963, but she continued to consult with doctors and conduct research.
She died in 1986 at the age of 87
Taussig’s legacy continues to live on through the many lives she saved and the generations of cardiologists she trained. She was a true pioneer in the field of pediatric cardiology, and her work has helped countless children born with congenital heart defects.
Today, the Blalock-Taussig shunt remains an important part of treatment for Tetralogy of Fallot and other congenital heart defects, and Taussig’s work continues to save lives all over the world.
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