Nathaniel T Oaks

Levi Watkins, pioneer in cardiac surgery, dies

Levi Watkins, pioneer in cardiac surgery, dies

Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., a noted Johns Hopkins cardiac surgeon, behind-the-scenes political figure and civil rights activist who broke many racial barriers, died Friday from a massive heart attack and stroke, relatives said Saturday.

The 70-year-old Dr. Watkins, the first black chief resident of cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was known as much for fighting the injustice faced by African-Americans as for his groundbreaking medical work.

"Levi was a son of the South who was birthed in the middle of segregationist America and the middle of a civil rights movement and became somebody who defied the limits of the expectations of him," said former Rep. Kweisi...