Surgeon Who Once Saved MLK’s Life Dies in NY

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  • 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.

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