Dr. Benjamin Solomon, “Ben” Carson, Presidential Medal of Freedom   2 comments


Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr., M.D., (born September 18, 1951) is an American neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President George W. Bush in 2008.

Early lifeCarson was born in Detroit, Michigan and was raised by his single mother, Sonya Carson. He struggled academically throughout elementary school, but started to excel in middle school and throughout high school. After graduating with honors from his high school, he attended Yale University, where he earned a degree in Psychology. He chose to go to Yale because in College Bowl, an old TV channel, he saw Yale compete against and defeat many other colleges in knowledge, including Harvard. Ben wanted to participate in College Bowl, but the channel was stopped. From Yale, he attended University of Michigan Medical School, where his interest shifted fervently encouraged him to read books so that he could gradually gain knowledge.

CareerCarson’s excellent eye-hand coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a gifted surgeon [1]. After medical school he became a neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. After starting off as an adult neurosurgeon Carson became more interested in pediatrics; the investment of operating on children satisfied him more than the investment on operating on adults. With children he believed that “what you see is what you get,”[2] when they’re in pain they clearly show it with a frown on their face or when they are happy they show it by smiling brightly. He realized that the investment from spending enormous amount of time on operating on children resulted in adding fifty to sixty years to their life compared to the investment from spending the same amount of time on operating on adults and those patients dying less than ten years due to other complications. Realizing this, he switched into the pediatric department and since then has been the head of pediatric neurosurgeon department and successfully completed many operations [3]. At age 33, he became the hospital’s youngest major division director, as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Carson’s other surgical innovations have included the first intrauterine procedure to relieve pressure on the brain of a hydrocephalic fetal twin, and a hemispherectomy, in which a young girl suffering from uncontrollable seizures had one half of her brain removed.

In 1987, Carson made medical history by being the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate siamese twins (the Binder twins) conjoined at the back of the head (craniopagus twins). Operations to separate twins joined in this way had always failed, resulting in the death of one or both of the infants. Carson agreed to undertake the operation. The 70-member surgical team, led by Carson, worked for 22 hours. At the end, the twins were successfully separated and can now survive independently. Carson recalls:

“ “I looked at that situation. I said, ‘Why is it that this is such a disaster?’ and it was because they would always exsanguinate. They would bleed to death, and I said, ‘There’s got to be a way around that. These are modern times.’ This was back in 1987. I was talking to a friend of mine, who was a cardiothoracic surgeon, who was the chief of the division, and I said, ‘You guys operate on the heart in babies, how do you keep them from exsanguinating’ and he says, ‘Well, we put them in hypothermic arrest.’ I said, ‘Is there any reason that — if we were doing a set of Siamese twins that were joined at the head — that we couldn’t put them into hypothermic arrest, at the appropriate time, when we’re likely to lose a lot of blood?’ and he said, ‘No way .’ I said, ‘Wow, this is great.’ Then I said, ‘Why am I putting my time into this? I’m not going to see any Siamese twins.’ So I kind of forgot about it, and lo and behold, two months later, along came these doctors from Germany, presenting this case of Siamese twins. And, I was asked for my opinion, and I then began to explain the techniques that should be used, and how we would incorporate hypothermic arrest, and everybody said ‘Wow! That sounds like it might work.’ And, my colleagues and I, a few of us went over to Germany. We looked at the twins. We actually put in scalp expanders, and five months later we brought them over and did the operation, and lo and behold, it worked.”[4] ”

Awards and honorsBen Carson has received numerous honors and many awards over the years, including over 61 honorary doctorate degrees. He was also a member of the American Academy of Achievement, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Yale Corporation (the governing body of Yale University), and many other prestigious organizations. He sits on many boards including the Board of Directors of Kellogg Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, and America’s Promise. He was also the president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. In 2007, Carson was inducted into the Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers and received an honorary doctorate while speaking at the university. He returned to IWU the following year when his friend, Tony Dungy, was also inducted into the society.[5] On June 19, 2008, Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He is a recipient of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal and the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, and was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the United States National Academy of Sciences

Publications and appearancesCarson has written four bestselling books published by Zondervan, an international Christian media and publishing company: Gifted Hands, The Big Picture, Take the Risk, and Think Big. The first book is an autobiography and two are about his personal philosophies of success that incorporate hard work and a faith in God; Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist. In a debate with Richard Dawkins, Francis Collins, and Daniel Dennett, Carson stated he doesn’t believe in evolution: “I don’t believe in evolution…He says that because there are these similarities, even though we can’t specifically connect them, it proves that this is what happened.”[6]

A video documentary about Carson’s life titled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story was released by Zondervan in 1992. Subsequently in 2009, a separate television movie with the identical title premiered on TNT on February 7, 2009, with Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in the lead role and Kimberly Elise portraying his mother.[7]

Personal lifeIn June 2002 Carson was forced to cut back on his public appearances when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the cancer was caught in time. Since then Carson has cut back on his schedule. He still operates on more than 300 children a year but has been trying to shorten his days: prior to his cancer he used to work from 7:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night. Now, he tries to leave the hospital at 6:15 P.M. This gives him more time to spend with his wife and three children.[8]

Carson married Candy Rustin—whom he met at Yale—in 1975 She is an accomplished musician, and both are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Christian denomination. They have three sons, Murray, Benjamin Jr., and Rhoeyce.[9]

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Posted February 25, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Educator, Scientists / Innovator

2 responses to “Dr. Benjamin Solomon, “Ben” Carson, Presidential Medal of Freedom

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