CARLA PUGH, MD '92, SURGICAL VISIONARY

CARLA PUGH, MD '92, SURGICAL VISIONARY

In the late 1990s, Dr. Carla Pugh was working the night shift in the emergency room at Howard University Hospital when a stabbing victim was carted in. He was a John Doe: no wallet, no credit cards, no identification, unconscious. Paramedics had placed a bathmat-size piece of gauze on his chest, and when Pugh peered underneath it, she saw a deep slice in his right chest and a lung hanging out. With such extensive injuries, there should have been a lot more bleeding; but with so little blood loss, the man—despite the savage wounds—should have still been awake. They stripped off all the gauze and bandages when Pugh spotted a tiny hole in his chest. She realized the knife must have nicked his heart. Holy crap, Pugh thought. “Put in a chest tube,” she ordered the resident on her team. “If we don’t get a gush of blood we’ll crack his chest.” When no red geyser was forthcoming, they prepped the patient for emergency surgery, inserting a breathing tube to get him oxygenated and help his heart beat.

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