Cardiology magazine from the American College of Cardiology features this portrait of Helen Taussig in their article “Pediatric Cardiology: A Specialty Spurred by the Groundbreaking Work of Women – The Legacies of Maude Abbott, MD, and Helen B. Taussig, MD, FACC.”
Caring for children who were destined to die from heart disease before they could walk, talk or attend school was not a relevant profession in the first half of the 20th century. In the male-dominated field of medicine, caring for these children who were certain to die before adulthood was viewed as work best left to those with maternal instincts: women.
A century later, that once marginalized job is a dynamic specialty built on the groundbreaking work of two women who overcame archaic attitudes by following their scientific instincts. Armed with determination, intelligence and curiosity, Maude Abbott, MD, and Helen B. Taussig, MD, FACC, cleared the hurdles placed in front of women interested in science, eventually earning medical degrees and laying the foundation for the modern specialty of pediatric cardiology.
In the mid-1940s, she worked with surgeon Alfred Blalock, MD, and surgical technician Vivien Thomas to develop the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt that improved pulmonary blood flow in blue babies with tetralogy of Fallot, allowing them to survive.
Dr. Taussig was Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, when she was photographed by Karsh in 1975.