Parkland Hospital: Voices from History

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The Second Patient

As soon as the presidential limousine arrived outside the Parkland Memorial Hospital emergency room, personnel removed Texas Governor Connally. In Trauma Room Two, doctors applied a dressing to his most severe injury, a wound in the right chest, before rushing him into surgery. He was primarily treated by Parkland surgeons Robert Shaw, Charles Gregory, Richard Dulany and Tom Shires. A bullet had entered the governor's back, just to the left of his right armpit. It fractured his fifth rib, lacerating the right lung and leaving a large wound below the right nipple. Small bone fragments that had blown into his lung caused further complications. Surgeons repaired the governor's chest and the broken radius bone in his right wrist. They also treated a superficial wound in his left thigh approximately six inches above the knee. The successful surgery ended at 5:23 p.m. Surrounded by family and friends, Connally recovered at Parkland in an isolated section of the hospital's second floor. He went home to Austin eight days after President Kennedy's assassination.

The treatment of Governor Connally was not the last time that Parkland Memorial Hospital would play an important role in the assassination story. On Sunday, November 24, 1963, local nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Oswald died at 1:07 p.m. at Parkland. Oswald was examined in Trauma Room Two, across the hall from where President Kennedy had died less than 48 hours earlier. Dallas County Medical Examiner Dr. Earl Rose performed the autopsies of Lee Harvey Oswald and Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit, whom Oswald had allegedly shot on Friday afternoon. Rose would have also conducted President Kennedy's autopsy had his body not been rushed back to Washington, D.C. 

Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby, later spent his last weeks at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with cancer. He died of a blood clot in his lung on January 3, 1967. Rose also performed his autopsy.