Something the lord made | the movie spoiler | plot summary | movie synopsis.


Something the lord made is an inspirational film that tells the story of Dr. Vivian Thomas. How a man who studied only up to high school made his valuable contribution to the field of medicine.

The story of the film begins in the late 1920s. In that era, the discrimination based on colour in America was at its peak. Young Vivian Thomas was working as a carpenter in an under-construction building. He was a high school student who wanted to go to college. He was working for his college tuition fees. His father was also a carpenter, taught him very well. One day his supervisor comes to him, pays his daily wages and says that you do good work, but I have to support the other workers too, as they have a family. He then fires him.

Now a friend of Vivian tells him about a new job at a lab run by one young surgeon named Dr Alfred Blalock. Dr Blalock speaks to Vivian and says.

Dr Blalock: We do medical research on shock in this lab. We bring dogs from a nearby dog house, experiment on them, study their conditions and publish our results. You have to clean the lab daily, feed the dogs on time and walk them. So we need a janitor.

Vivian accepts that job. Now, while working in the lab, Vivian reads all medical books. He learns all the procedure to conduct the experiments. He has now completed high school, but still had no money to go to college, so he continues his work at the lab. Dr Blalock also notices his interest, and he encourages him actively. His hands were very strong, bcz of carpentry, he could handle tough procedures. Dr Blalock teaches him all procedures. Vivian also learns everything with great interest. In a few months, he starts doing the entire experiments of the lab on his own, conducting them, noting the results and filing the report.

In between, Vivian marries Clara. When his life was going well, on September 29, 1929, the U.S. stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins. The bank in which he kept all of his college money goes under bankruptcy. His plan to go to college was also over now. Vivian's father, brother Harold, and the rest of The Family Members actively supports him.

For the next many years, Vivian and Dr. Blalock work together in the lab and continue to conduct the systematic research. Dr Blalock now had full confidence in Vivian's knowledge and skills, that’s why he started acting as a supervisor. Dr Blalock gives a white coat to Vivian symbolizing that he is equal to a lab technician, in experience. 

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States goes to war. Dr. Blalocks' research proves to be quite useful to treat soldiers who are suffering from shock due to bleeding. Dr. Blalock now gets the top job of chief of surgery at the Famous Medical Research Hospital, Johns Hopkins. He and Vivian now go from Nashville to Baltimore.

Baltimore was a broken cosmopolitan. Inflation was too high. Vivian and Clara were having trouble getting into this big city. Baltimore was infamous at that time for racism. Dr. Blalock and Vivian, when they go to hospital from the front door, the doctor shows him the portraits of all the great doctors in the Hall of Fame. There, there was a portrait of John's Hopkins himself, who started the hospital, Sir Wiliam Osler, the Father of American Medicine, etc.

It is only then that the hospital security says that black people are supposed to come from the back door. Dr Blalock tries to convince him but fails. On his 1st day at work, Vivian wears his white coat and walks like a regular guy, everyone at the hospital feels astonished, in their entire life they never saw a coloured man walking with a white coat. So far, black people used to be janitors, there were no black doctors, no black technicians. Vivian was the 1st official black lab technician. Since he had no official degree of a lab technician, the hospital allotted him the job classification of janitor only, like the rest of the other black staff. Vivian initially didn’t know that.

In the meantime, Claire complains that Baltimore is way more expensive, where it is getting difficult for her and her children to adjust. Vivian says Dr Blalock had received offers from many hospitals, but he refused many of them because they did not want him. He says when I started working. I was just a janitor, but today I am the lab assistant to the chief of surgery in one of the country's best hospitals. He convinces Clara to adjust to a new life. To earn extra money he starts to do all odd jobs he can like working as a plumber in his apartment, as a waiter at Dr Blalock's parties.

During one such party, Dr. Blalock meets Dr. Helen Tausig. Dr. Helen was a pediatrician and had many cases with Blue Baby Syndrome. Blue baby syndrome occurs in new-born babies where their body colour turns to blue. Haemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to body cells. When haemoglobin is low in blood, the skin colour turns to be blue. The main reason for haemoglobin deficiency is low blood oxygen. Babies with defected heart anatomy cause blue baby syndrome in them.

In an easy language, there are two parts in a normal heart. The left side and the right side, both sides are separated by a fine membrane. The heart is basically a pump which always pumps blood. All the oxygenated blood coming from the body first goes to the right side of the heart, from there it gets pumped into the lungs. When we inhale the oxygen from the nose, it goes to the lungs. In lungs the chemical exchange happens. Oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide goes out. This oxidised blood from the lungs goes to the left part of the heart, from there it gets pumped to rest on the body. These processes continue.

There are four main reasons for different heart condition in blue baby patients. One of the main reasons is caused by a hole in the membrane that separates the left from the right. When there is a hole in the membrane, some part of the blood which gets pumped to the lungs from the right side flows directly to the left side. This is de-oxygenated blood, hence it carries no oxygen. When such blood is pumped from the left side to the rest of the body, it reduces the overall oxygen level.

Dr. Helen forces Dr. Blalock to accept this challenge. Until 1940, surgery on the heart was written off. The popular belief in the medical fraternity was in order to conduct a surgery. You have to stop the heart for at least three minutes by that time the patient dies; hence, it was taught in all the medical schools not to touch the heart.

Dr. Helen recently got a new case. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Saxon. She was already of pale blue colour. She didn't have much time. Now Vivian and Dr. Blalock start their research. First, they want to induce the effect of the blue baby syndrome in a healthy dog, study its effects, and, after that, find the surgical cure. After America entered WW2 in 1941, hospitals filled up with injured soldiers. Dr. Blalock was too busy in regular operations, hence he was not able to give much time to medical research. All the responsibility of conducting heavy research fell on the shoulders of Vivian.

Vivian now starts to study the heart defect of blue babes. It was no easy task to induce the exact effect of blue babe syndrome in a healthy dog. It took 7 months and 200 unsuccessful dogs to arrive at the solution. Vivian was no veterinary doctor, but due to his experience with dogs in Nashville, he was able to successfully induce that effect. He invented many surgical instruments, many surgical techniques, he worked 10 to 12 hrs a day, he was so well-versed with dog treatment that a local dog house asked him to volunteer every weekend to do the surgery on dogs. Dr Longmore who was a resident of Dr. Blalock also wished to learn all these new techniques from him.

In the meantime, one day Vivian’s elder brother, Harold Thomas, comes to Baltimore to pay a visit to him. Harold was fighting a case against the School Board in US Supreme Court. His lawyer was legendary Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall later went on to become the first black Supreme Court judge in 1967. At that time the school teachers were not paid equally in the US, there was discrimination in payment based on colour. After 12 years of legal battle, the judgment was about to come. Harold advised Vivian to go back to Nashville, he wanted him to quit that dead-end job. Vivian politely reasons it out.

On knowing his job classification and salary are the same as that of other janitors, Vivian gets furious. He demands from Dr. Blalock that he should be given a higher salary. A job classification of a lab technician. He threatens to quit the job and go back to Nashville. Dr. Blalock talks with the chairman of the hospitals and asks for a raise. The hospital chairman suggested that he hires a new educated, college graduate. Dr. Blalock insists that he wants Vivian, he says he was a good listener, works really hard and has tons of experience. The hospital finally agrees to hire Vivian as a lab technician ignoring all hiring rules.

Now Dr. Blalock suggests a new method to get more oxygen in the blood. He says the blood that comes from the left side of the heart if we rewire it to the right side through a stunt, then we can give more oxygen to the right side of the heart. Then the right side of the heart will pump more blood to the lungs, once the lungs start exchanging more oxygen, more oxygen will circulate in the body. Vivian now tries this new method after a few days of hard work and failure, finally he was able to create more oxygen in the dog's body. Dr. Blalock checks that and says “Did you really do that, Vivian? It look like something the Lord made.

Now Dr. Blalock and Vivian explain their research to Dr Helen. All the three now do the same experiment on another dog. This time Dr. Blalock performs the surgery while Vivian standing next to him explains all the procedures in detail. The operation was successful, and now they were ready to perform the same operation on a Saxon baby.

Dr. Blalock now explains the Procedure to Mr. and Mrs. Saxon and all the risk associated with it. Since there was no other option, they agreed for the operation.

Dr. Blalock asks his resident doctors, Dr Longmore and Dr. Cooley, to assist him and Dr Helen in the surgery. On the day of the operation all the other doctors of the hospital, administrative board members, chairman, everybody comes to see this complex procedure. Everything was right on the operation table, but Dr. Blalock starts to feel uncomfortable, so he asks his assistant Dr Longmore to bring Vivian to OT.

After checking, Dr Longmore informs Dr. Blalock that the hospital. Administration is not allowing Vivian in to OT as he is not a doctor or a nurse. Dr. Blalock furiously announces Vivian to come to OT. When he arrives at the OT, Dr. Blalock tells him to stand beside him and instruct him all the procedures step by step.

Vivian does the same. When Dr. Blalock connects the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, the baby skin colour starts to change from blue to pink. Everybody in the room starts to rejoice. It was the first successful heart operation in the world. Everyone, Saxon parents, the staff at the hospital, Dr. Blalock and his wife, Vivian, everyone was happy.

Dr. Blalock appreciates the skills of Vivian. In the newspapers and Time magazine, articles were written about the first successful heart operation. But the name of Vivian Thomas was nowhere. Dr Blalock and Dr Helen were credited with the discovery of the stunt, hence it was named after them,“ B-T stunt”. Clara gives some solace to Vivian.

The cure for blue baby syndrome spread like a wild fire. The hospital was flooded with patients. Dr Blalock and Vivian conduct hundreds of operations. Doctors from all over the world observers the operation.

At the white only felicitation function, Dr Blalock was felicitated and thanked by many donors of the hospital. Dr Blalock acknowledges everybody's contribution but Vivian’s. Vivian was attending that function as a waiter, he hoped that at least Dr Blalock would appreciate his contribution publicly. Knowing that now that was not going to happen the next day, he resigns from his job.

Dr Blalock tries to convince him. He says he was not responsible for not allowing the function. He was not responsible for all the racism in the society. But Vivian was adamant, he felt let down, so he finally resigned.

Now Vivian starts to work as a medical representative. All the black doctors who knew Vivian from the operation try to help him as best they can. After some time Vivian and Clara visit their parents in Nashville. Harold was also there, he won his famous case at SC.

After some time, Vivian says to Clara that his mind is still in that lab of Dr Blalock. His life work is there in that lab. So he has decided to get that old job back. Vivian says sorry to Dr Blalock and gets his old job back.

The story of the film jumps 20 years forward. The year was 1964, and the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was conducting mass protests against racism in America. Racism was slowly and steadily going away from all the public places. At John's Hopkins, Vivian was now allowed to enter the hospital from the front door.

Vivian was now made in charge of all the labs at the hospital. He was the director of the laboratory. His job was to teach surgery to young trainee doctors.

One day Dr Blalock, now critical in health, visits Vivian and says sorry for not firmly supporting him in all those years. Dr Blalock never openly said anything about racism, and he felt sorry about that. Dr Blalock’s portrait was now “In The Hall Of Fame.”After some day Dr Blalock dies.

In 1976, Johns Hopkins University gives “Doctor Of Law“an honorary title to Vivian. Vivian worked as a lab instructor for 37 years at John's Hopkins.


At his retirement Dr Helen, Dr Longmore, Dr Cooley and all the board members of the hospital arrange a felicitation function. They unravel the portrait of “Dr. Vivian Thomas.” At the hospital this portrait was placed adjacent to Dr Ballocks.

Dr Vivian Thomas died in 1985. He was known as the best lab instructor in the world. He invented many surgical instruments, surgical techniques, he overcame social injustice with will power. This film bagged a lot of awards and is considered one of the best inspirational movies.


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