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Former Creighton Surgeon, Graduate Part of Historical Exhibition

Former Creighton Surgeon, Graduate Part of Historical Exhibition

Public reception opens exhibit on Nov. 7.

The late Claude Organ Jr., M.D., made history as the first African American to chair a surgery department at a predominantly white U.S. medical school when he accepted the position at Creighton University in 1971. He is one of the physicians featured in “Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons.”

The traveling exhibit, which celebrates the stories of four pioneering African American surgeons and educators in both photographs and words, will be in Omaha, Nov. 7 to Jan. 28. Sponsored by Creighton, the exhibit will be at Loves Jazz & Arts Center, Nov. 7-Dec. 12, and Creighton University Health Sciences Library/Learning Resource Center, Dec. 15-Jan. 28.

A wine and cheese reception will open the exhibit at Loves Center, 2510 N. 24 St., 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7. The reception is free to the public. Omaha surgeon Ray Gaines, a 1957 Creighton medical school graduate and a former colleague of Organ’s, will speak at the reception.

Organ, who graduated cum laude in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree from Xavier University in New Orleans, planned to pursue a medical degree at a Texas university. However, when school administrators discovered he was black, they offered to pay the difference in his tuition to attend school elsewhere.

Creighton University School of Medicine accepted Organ into its program. He earned his medical degree in 1952 and pursued his surgical internship and residency at Creighton, 1953-56. He joined Creighton’s medical faculty in 1963 as an assistant professor and rose to the ranks of professor and chair of surgery, serving in those positions from 1971 to 1982.

Organ helped found the Society of Black Academic Surgeons in 1989. He became the second African American president of the American College of Surgeons in 2003.

“Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons” was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore.