Daniel Williams became the first man to perform open heart surgery. It was cool that he was an African American. I’m just saying. Anyway, I’ll let Biography take over:
In 1893, Williams continued to make history when he operated on James Cornish, a man with a severe stab wound to his chest who was brought to Provident. Without the benefits of a blood transfusion or modern surgical procedures, Williams successfully sutured Cornish’s pericardium (the membranous sac enclosing the heart), becoming the first person to perform open-heart surgery. Cornish lived for many years after the operation.
You can read Williams’ bio here if ya want. Clearly, this type of surgery has saved many.