Nancy Spiller's "The State of the Heart" (March 20) was an interesting, dramatic account of the progress in the surgical treatment of the human heart. The introduction begins: "It was only 50 years ago that a surgeon first entered the human body to repair a damaged heart." That statement is incorrect. In July, 1893, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an Afro-American, repaired a stab wound to the heart of a patient in the operating room at Provident Hospital, Chicago. Williams' own detailed account of his surgery is reproduced in "A Century of Black Surgeons," edited by C. H. Organ Jr. and M. M. Kosiba (1987). The event is reported also in "Doctor Dan: Pioneer in American Surgery," by H. Buckler (1954) and in my book, "Charles E. Bentley: A Model for All Times" (1982).
CLIFTON O. DUMMETT DDS
PROFESSOR OF DENTISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY