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Ben Carson’s Legacy in Pediatric Neurosurgery

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Pediatric Neurosurgery has the ability to save the lives of disabled children with brain or spinal issues. Becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon requires years of education, hard work and determination. Having very little room for failure, neurosurgeons have to stretch their minds to get the job done. Ben Carson took the world of neurosurgery by storm. He worked to overcome his disadvantaged childhood and he now deserves the highest regards. Ben Carson once said, “Whatever direction we choose, if we can realize that every hurdle we can jump strengthens and prepares us for the next one, we were already in the way to success”. Carson lived this out in his own life and has done well for himself and his family. Beginning in poverty, Ben Carson worked hard to succeed far beyond the expectations set for a young African American.

Ben Carson’s WAS born in Detroit, Michigan in 1951 to a poor family (Southerland 1). Carson’s mother dropped out of school in the third grade and married at the age of thirteen (Source 5). At the young age of 8 Carson’s Father left Ben, his older brother, and his mother to pursue his other family (Southerland 2). Due to this, Ben, his brother, and mother moved in with her sister in Boston (Southerland 2). Carson’s Mother, Sonya worked multiple jobs from 5am till 11pm (Southerland 2). They moved back to Detroit (Southerland 3). They spent many hours in the hospital waiting room due to their medical assistance program, which inspired Ben Carson to picture himself as a doctor (Southerland 3). In 5th grade, he WAS at the bottom of his class. Carson’s mother, Sonya saw her boy’s failing grades and she stepped in (Source 5). From then on, Carson WAS only allowed two hours of television per week (Source 5). Also he WAS not allowed to play outside until all their homework WAS done (Source 5). In addition, they were required to read two library books per week (Source 5). Carson WAS resentful at first but he soon discovered his huge love of learning (Southerland 4). Within weeks, he made his class marvel by identifying rocks that the teacher had brought to class (Source 5).

Despite the tremendous distance that he had come, Carson still had raging anger issues and even tried to hit his mother over a small disagreement of fashion; he discovered this WAS due to putting himself at the center of everything (Southerland 4-5). Ben Carson graduated from his local high school with honors (Source 5). Carson, majoring in psychology, attended Yale University (Source 5). Carson graduated and went to the Medical School of the University of Michigan, shifting his interest to neurosurgery (Source 5). Carson said, “When I made my choice for neurosurgery it seemed the most natural thing in the world”. (Carson, 105) Carson’s great hand-eye coordination and 3D reasoning skills set him apart from the other novice students (Source 5). Post-Medical school, Carson worked at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (Southerland 6). Carson, specialized in traumatic brain injuries, tumors on the spine and brain, craniosynostosis, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, epilepsy, and trigeminal neuralgia (Southerland 7-8). At the age of thirty-two, Carson WAS placed as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery (Southerland 8) This career advancement made him the youngest division director in the history of an elite hospital (Southerland 8). He held this position for the next twenty-nine years before retiring from medicine in 2013 (Source 5).

Beyond medicine, Carson WAS in constant demand as a public speaker due to his discoveries in neurosurgery and he devoted his time to meet with young people (Source 5).After a prayer breakfast in 2013, people were begging Carson to run for president (Berenson). Carson thought that if he ignored the cry it would blow over (Berenson). The concern kept building up and Carson began to listen (Berenson). Carson began to see that the elderly had began to give up hope for America and wish to die (Berenson). In addition, the young people grew afraid of what WAS going to happen in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives (Berenson). Carson heard the loud and clear call to run and motivation to share his encouraging story with kids (Berenson). Carson responded to this call by saying “So having had a career as a problem solver, I said, Lord you know I don’t want to do this but if you open the doors I’ll do it” (Berenson).Ben Carson accomplished a lot in the medical field and has made a name for himself especially for beginning in poverty, a broken home, and his past anger issues. Between the years 2000 and 2001, Carson received three awards: The Jefferson Award, an annual award for greatest public service benefiting disadvantaged, Election by the Library of Congress for the designation as one of the 84 Library of Congress Living Legends on the special occasion of their 200th birthday, and named one of the 20 foremost physicians by scientists by Time Magazine and CNN (Southerland 14).

Receiving three more awards between 2004-2006, Carson received, the President’s Council on bioethics appointment, William E. Simon Prize for Plilanthropedics leadership, and Springarn Medal from the NAACP, the highest honor for outstanding achievement (Southerland 14-15) From 2007-2008 Carson received The Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with “America’s Best Leaders” by US news and world report; lastly Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal for demonstrating the qualities embodied in Lincoln: courage, equality, integrity, tolerance, and creative expression (Southerland 15) Around the end of his medical career in 2013, Carson WAS elected into National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in medicine and health, along with The Daily Record’s Influential Marylander; Carson WAS placed sixth on a list of the most admired men in the world poll by Gallup (Southerland 15)Ben Carson impacted society by pioneering in the uncharted territory of neurosurgery. Carson separated, for the first time in history, a pair of conjoined twins who were connected at the head (Southerland 10). Prior to this breakthrough, no other neurosurgery had successfully worked resulting in both twins surviving (Southerland 10). Carson successfully repeated this surgery multiple times throughout his career (Southerland 10) Carson and his team also traveled and worked internationally (Southerland 11). In 1997, they went to Zambia to separate twins from the top of the head (Southerland 11). After the 28-hour procedure, both survived without any brain damage (Southerland 11-12). The new technology on hand may help with the task, but the execution of the procedure still lies in the hands of the doctor and their own knowledge level. He attempted to separate conjoined 29 year old Iranian women, despite the new technology in use, both died within hours of the surgery due to connected blood vessels in the brain (Southerland 12-13).

Ben Carson began with the disadvantages of a broken home, poverty, and anger issues. Carson worked hard on his journey of life, and once said, “Often as I walk through the wards I think, it is so great now while I am a student, it is going to be even greater when I finish my residency”. Throughout all the many hurdles he jumped, Carson stayed humble and stood fast in his faith. Carson built up a legacy that will outlast him. In his career of neurosurgery and politics, Carson lives out hard work and perseverance. Beginning in an uphill battle, Carson, endured to conquer the once impossible.

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Ben Carson’s legacy in pediatric neurosurgery. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2022, from
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