HBO movie has ties to Jonesboro

By Tamara Boatwright

The late Dr. Alfred Blalock, who will be featured in the HBO film, "Something the Lord Made," Sunday at 9 p.m., has a Jonesboro connection.

He was the brother of the late Ed Blalock Sr. and the uncle of Ed Blalock Jr. of Blalock Oil. Alfred died in 1964 at the age of 65 and Ed Sr. died in 1999 at the age of 96.

Ed Jr. has little recollection of his famous uncle other than him being a graduate of Jonesboro High School. Dr. Blalock graduated from the University of Georgia, attended medical school at Vanderbilt in Nashville and made his career at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

"I can remember when Mr. Ed (senior) would see something about his brother in the paper he would bring it in to show me," said Helen Spruill, an employee at Blalock Oil. "He was so proud of his brother."

According to HBO.com, The film stars Alan Rickman as Blalock and Mos Def as Vivien Thomas. Blalock is the white, wealthy head of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Thomas is black and poor, a skilled carpenter whose dream of going to college and becoming a doctor was ruined by the Great Depression, although he was naturally gifted with the intuition and dexterity of a great surgeon.

The Blalock family roots originated in Culloden, in Monroe County, just north of Macon. An historical marker was placed there in 1996 and reads, "ALFRED BLALOCK, M.D.

1899-1964 World famous surgeon, teacher and research scientist was born in Culloden, Georgia April 5, 1899 and educated at Georgia Military College, the University of Georgia and Johns Hopkins Medical School. He completed his surgical training at Vanderbilt University where he served as Professor of Surgery 1928-1941. He was Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins 1941-1963. His research on traumatic shock led to saving many lives in World War II. On November 29, 1944, her performed the first "blue baby" operation. This success was important in the development of modern heart surgery. In 1947 he demonstrated his operation in England and in France. Dr. Blalock was recognized as a world leader in surgery and was honored as president of many organizations including the American Surgical Association, American College of Surgeons, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Society of Clinical Surgery and Society for Vascular Surgery. He was particularly proud of his election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. However, his proudest achievement was the large number of famous surgical teachers and investigators he taught and trained. He died in Baltimore, Maryland on September 15, 1964"