Surgeon who once saved MLK’s life dies in NY at 95

Dec 31, 2013, 10:39 PM

NEW YORK (AP) – Dr. John W.V. Cordice, a surgeon who was part of the medical team that saved Martin Luther King Jr. from a nearly fatal stab wound in 1958, has died at age 95.

Sunday’s death was announced by the city agency that oversees Harlem Hospital Center, where Cordice was formerly an attending surgeon and chief of thoracic surgery.

“He was a brilliant clinical practitioner, a wise and thoughtful teacher, and a man of deep and abiding kindness and quiet modesty,” city Health and Hospitals Corp. President Alan D. Aviles said Tuesday. “It is entirely consistent with his character that many who knew him may well not have known that he was also a part of history.”

Cordice was off duty when King was taken to the hospital after a mentally disturbed woman stabbed him with a letter-opener as he signed books in Harlem. The 7-inch steel blade was still stuck in the civil rights leader’s chest, millimeters from his aorta, when Cordice arrived from Brooklyn.

The operation was overseen by Dr. Aubre Maynard, the hospital’s chief surgeon, and performed by Cordice and Dr. Emil Naclerio.

King, then 29 and already a name in national politics, was discharged 14 days later. He was assassinated in 1968.

“I think if we had lost King that day, the whole civil rights era would have been different,” Cordice said in a Harlem Hospital promotional video in 2012.

King, in his final public speech, talked about that close brush with mortality, noting that the blade had been so close to his vital organs that if he had sneezed before surgeons had a chance to remove it, he would have died.

“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters,” he said. “If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel … If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Ala., aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.”

Cordice, a native of Durham, N.C., earned his medical degree at New York University in 1942. He practiced medicine in the city for 40 years. He lived in Harlem and then Queens, where he was also a surgical chief at the Queens Hospital Center.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko talks with US President George W.Bush, at the NATO Sum...
Associated Press

14 years on, NATO to renew a vow to Ukraine

BUCHAREST (AP) — NATO returns on Tuesday to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions, intent on repeating its vow that Ukraine — now suffering through the 10th month of a war against Russia — will join the world’s biggest military alliance one day. NATO foreign ministers will gather for two days at […]
1 hour ago
Sheree Perry of Virginia Beach, center, prays with chaplains at a memorial on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022...
Associated Press

City to hold vigil honoring those killed in Walmart shooting

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, has scheduled a candlelight vigil for Monday evening that will honor and remember the victims of last week’s mass shooting at a Walmart store. Six employees were killed and six people were wounded by a store supervisor late Tuesday night in the city of about 250,000 […]
1 day ago
FILE - Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court in Buffalo, N.Y....
Associated Press

Lawyers: Buffalo supermarket gunman plans to plead guilty

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A white gunman who targeted a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood plans to plead guilty on Monday to killing 10 people and wounding three others, according to lawyers representing victims’ relatives. Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to appear in Erie County Court for a hearing that was postponed for […]
1 day ago
FILE - An election worker verifies a ballot on a screen inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office...
Associated Press

Arizona counties face deadline to certify 2022 election

PHOENIX (AP) — Six Arizona counties must decide Monday whether to certify 2022 election results amid pressure from some Republicans not to officially approve a vote count that had Democrats winning for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races. Election results have largely been certified without issue in jurisdictions across the country. That’s not been […]
1 day ago
FILE - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill i...
Associated Press

McCarthy’s pursuit of speaker’s gavel comes at a high cost

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is in the fight of his political life, grinding through the promises and proposals, cajoling and deal-making necessary to win over reluctant colleagues whose support he needs to become House speaker. Every new commitment from McCarthy can be seen as a potentially strategic move, intended to quell skeptics […]
1 day ago
FILE - Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge visit the Church on the Street in Bu...
Associated Press

Sibling unease dogs Prince William’s ‘Earthshot’ US trip

LONDON (AP) — Prince William and the Princess of Wales will be looking to focus attention on their Earthshot Prize for environmental innovators when they make their first visit to the U.S. in eight years this week, a trip likely to be dogged by tensions with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who have criticized […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Surgeon who once saved MLK’s life dies in NY at 95