Physician John C. Norman Jr., a pioneer in artificial-heart research, was born in Charleston on May 11, 1930. His father was West Virginia’s first licensed African-American architect.
Norman was valedictorian of his class at Charleston’s Garnet High School in 1946. He went on to Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1954. As a surgeon at Boston City Hospital in the 1960s, he began researching organ transplants and, in 1967, successfully transplanted the spleen of a healthy dog into a hemophiliac dog. He also started experimenting with a battery-operated pump for heart patients.