On this day in 1944, scores of Johns Hopkins surgeons and medical students crammed into the two-level observation gallery overlooking the Halsted clinic operating room theater. For the next four-and-a-half hours, they watched as surgeons performed the first “blue baby” operation, on a tiny child named Eileen Saxon.

The frail 18-month-old, who weighed only 9 pounds, had a heart condition that was deteriorating fast. Every part of her body was blue — a sign that her ailing heart was preventing ample blood from reaching the lungs to provide enough oxygen to the rest of her body. The condition, known as tetralogy of Fallot, is deadly.

Read more about this transformative medical milestone as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first “blue baby” heart surgery being performed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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