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Topics: Conjoined twins, Conservatism, Johns Hopkins Hospital Pages: 7 (2219 words) Published: February 6, 2014
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr., (born September 18, 1951) is a columnist and retired American neurosurgeon. He is credited with being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular figure in conservative media for his views on social issues and the federal government.

Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Sonya (née Copeland), a Seventh-day Adventist; and Robert Solomon Carson, a Baptist Minister.[1] His parents were both from rural Georgia.[1] At 8, his parents divorced and he and his 10-year-old brother, Curtis, were raised by their mother.[2] He attended Southwestern High School in Southwest Detroit, and graduated from Yale University, where he majored in psychology. He received his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School.

Carson was a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics, and he was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.[3] At age 33, he became the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins history, as director of pediatric neurosurgery. He was also a co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center.

According to Johns Hopkins Hospital literature, "Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy, and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child."[3]

Carson believes his hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a gifted surgeon.[4] After medical school, he became a neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Starting off as an adult neurosurgeon, Carson became more interested in pediatrics. He believed that with children, "what you see is what you get, ... 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.[4] "

In 1987, Carson became the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins, the Binder twins, who had been joined at the back of the head, making them craniopagus twins. 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. As Carson wrote in his book:



...they would always exsanguinate. They would bleed to death, and I said, 'There's got to be a way around that... 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.' ...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, 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.[5]



Carson figured in the revival of the hemispherectomy, a drastic surgical procedure in which part or all of one hemisphere of the brain is removed to control severe pediatric epilepsy. He refined the procedure in the 1980s, encouraged by Dr. John M. Freeman,[6] and performed it many times.[7][8]

In addition to his responsibilities at Johns Hopkins, he has served on...
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