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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Who is Dr. Edward S. Cooper, the 1st Black President of the American Heart Association?

In line with NBC reports for February on Black Americans who made impacts that live on, the amazing achievements of now 94-year-old Dr. Edward Cooper an emeritus professor of in the University of Pennsylvania and formerly the president of the American Heart Association is brought to focus.

As a cardiologist, he has treated notable individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reginald Lewis. At the young age of seven Cooper witnessed his younger brother being treated for scarlet fever, during this period the comments made by the Pediatrician who was a white man left a mark on his young heart.

“You are going to be a pediatrician someday”

Backed with fantastic grades, his love for science, and his drive to help people, young Cooper could visualize himself wearing a white coat. At the age of 15, he was admitted to Lincoln University and later Meharry Medical College.

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Life as a student in Medical college was great, especially since Cooper was surrounded by supportive professors. It was not until Edward Cooper entered the hospital did he realize the high rates of deaths in people of color.

“I entered the Philadelphia General Hospital as an intern…I was the only person of color there out of my intern class, each day, two or three stroke cases would come in, very severe.
Half of them were in blacks and half were fatal…I was just struck by it because stroke was in the back of the textbook, in the back of the receiving ward, in the back of the hospital. There was nothing you could do” He recalled.

It was after Cooper had a close call with death that he decided to take the bulls by the horns and do something about the massive stroke cases he observed. In the years following, Cooper put together a team that specialized in stroke and heart health.

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His consistency and efforts saved countless lives and in 1992 he was named the first black president of the American Heart Association (AHA). His works in the Association created a platform for the rise of a sub-division called the American Stroke Association.

Cooper’s advice for the next generation to take their studies seriously and strive for excellence.


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