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Who was Dr. Ben Carson?

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Quick Answer

Benjamin Solomon Carson, also known as Dr. Ben Carson, is a retired American neurosurgeon who gained renown for his separation of twins conjoined at the head. The surgery, which took place in 1987, was the first time the procedure had been completed successfully.

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Full Answer

Benjamin Carson was born in Detroit in 1951, the firstborn son to Sonya and Robert Carson. His parents divorced during his childhood, leaving his mother to raise Carson and his younger brother alone. Carson aspired to a career in medicine, and though he had difficulty in school and struggled with violence and anger issues, he eventually overcame these obstacles and earned a scholarship to Yale University, where he studied psychology.

After his graduation from Yale, Carson pursued neurosurgery at the University of Michigan. In 1977, after completing his medical degree, he relocated to Baltimore, where Carson became a resident at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Within five years he was the chief resident of neurosurgery, and eventually became director of pediatric neurosurgery. His surgical skill led to international acclaim when, in 1987, he successfully separated 7-month-old conjoined German twins in a 22-hour surgery with a medical team of 70 doctors, nurses and various other staff. With a surgical method normally used in cardiac surgery, Carson was able to fully separate the twins, who were joined at the back of the head, a procedure that had never been done before with both twins surviving.

Throughout the next few decades Carson separated many more conjoined twins, and due to his exceptional skill in the medical field, received numerous honorary doctorate degrees. After a brush with cancer in 2002, his focus split between surgery and writing, and Carson published quite a few books about his life and career. Since retiring in 2012, Carson has become active in U.S. politics.

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