Friday, November 13, 2015

The story of the surgery that made Ben Carson famous — and its complicated aftermath

By Ben Terris and Stephanie Kirchner November 13 at 1:57 PM, WashPost

For months, a team of physicians and nurses had rehearsed for the delicate surgery. For hours they had prepped the two tiny bodies perilously joined at the head. And when it came time on that day in 1987 to put a knife to the large vein connecting them — the most fraught step in the groundbreaking operation to separate infant conjoined twins — Benjamin Solomon Carson, the brilliant young pediatric neurosurgeon who had overseen the babies’ case from the start, offered his scalpel to his boss.

It was a sign of deference and respect — and perhaps, a measure of caution. But Donlin Long, head of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, refused the gesture. Carson, he had already decided, should make the crucial cut.

“Part of me thought, maybe I should take the knife. If things go badly it would be terrible for the young doctor’s career,” Long recalled this month. “But I also know that if this was a success, if things go well, it would make his reputation, would make him famous, that people would grow up trying to emulate him.”

More than any other moment in a dazzling career, it was the separation of the Binder twins that launched the stardom of Ben Carson. The then-35-year-old doctor walked out of the operating room that day and stepped into a spotlight that has never yet dimmed, from the post-surgery news conference covered worldwide, through his subsequent achievements in his medical career, to publishing deals and a lucrative career as a motivational speaker — all paving the way to his current moment as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

(More here.)

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