Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., the first heart surgeon to implant an automatic heart defibrillator into a human patient, died April 11 from a heart attack in Baltimore. Dr. Watkins was 70.
His death was announced by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, where in 1970 he became the school’s first African-American medical intern. He later was named the first African-American chief resident in cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which is in Baltimore.
In 1980, Dr. Watkins performed the world’s first human implantation of the automatic implantable defibrillator on February 4, 1980, on a 57-year-old woman from California at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The defibrillator was connected to a battery-operated generator, and it was inserted under the woman’s stomach. Defibrillators detects arrhythmia in the heart and emits an electronic charge to correct it.
Later he developed several different techniques for the implantation of this device, and he also developed the cardiac arrhythmia service at Johns Hopkins, where various new open-heart techniques are now being performed to treat patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, according to the website “The History of African Americans @ Johns Hopkins University.”
Dr. Watkins also worked to increase the admission of more African Americans at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He joined the admissions committee in 1979 and by 1983, minority representation at the school increased to 40 from eight.
Dr. Watkins, a graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine, retired from Johns Hopkins in 2013.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday for Percy Sledge, who was best-known for his first recording and first hit, “When a Man Loves a
Sledge died April 14th in his Baton Rouge, La., home where he was receiving hospice care for end stage liver cancer. He was 73 years old.
Sledge, who used to pick cotton for a living, made his mark on the music world with “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
The record was released in 1966, and it became the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 and R& B singles charts. It is listed 53rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Sledge, who grew up in Alabama, was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.