Dr. Ben Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at John
Hopkins Hospital, is an example for African-American youth. Yet, if
Ben is a hero, his mother, Sonya Carson, is the heroine of his
Sonya was one of 24 children, and married at the age of 13, when
she moved with her husband from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Detroit, where
he found a job in the Cadillac plant, and worked there until he
retired in 1970.
The couple had two children, Curtis and Ben, who loved their
father and were despondent when their parents separated. He had a
mistress and children by her. Sonya filed for divorce when Curtis
was ten and Ben, eight.
With a third grade education, the mother worked long hours doing
domestic work, mainly for wealthy people, and she passed on her
observations to her boys, as recorded in Ben's autobiography,
"This is what wealthy people do. This is how successful people
behave. Here's how they think. You boys can do it, too, and you can
do it better!"
When studies overwhelmed them, she would say, "You weren't born
to be a failure. You can do it. You just ask the Lord, and he'll
At the age of eight, Ben heard a missionary speak, and made up
his mind to be a missionary doctor. His mother's reaction was, "
Well, Bennie, then you will be a doctor."
Becoming a doctor would demand a fine education, which Sonya
didn't find in the local public school. It didn't matter if the
children weren't made to learn their multiplication tables in
school; Sonya's children learned them at home.
Every week, she walked seven blocks with the boys to the library,
and demanded that they read two books a week and report on them to
her. Soon, the youngsters were reading many more.
While other children were glued to their TV sets, Curtis and Ben
were limited to three programs a week. The rest of the time was
spent in study, reading, learning musical instruments, or playing
At times, the pressures of being a single mother became too much
for Sonya, and she would leave her children with a friend while she
checked herself into a mental hospital for treatment. After about
three weeks, she was ready to resume her normal life.
Little did she realize then that her Ben would grow up to be one
of the greatest surgeons in the world, and would be able to bring
peace to mothers and fathers while healing their children.
Ben tells the story of 20-year old Theresa Binder of Ulm, West
Germany, who, in January of 1987, contemplated suicide during her
eight month, despondent that she would give birth to Siamese twin
Eventually, Theresa chose to give birth , and the boys were born
by Caesarean section, weighing a total of eight pounds and joined at
the back of their heads.
The twins shared a section of the skull and skin tissue, as well
as a major vein responsible for draining blood from the brain and
returning it to the heart.
The babies' doctor contacted Ben, who had been named the director
of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins at the age of 33, who
consented to consider the case.
For five months, the team of doctors studied procedures, and were
successful in separating the twins in a 22-hour ordeal in
We thank God for doctors like Ben and mothers like Sonya, an
inspiration to all of every color, age and religion. Ben's story,
"Gifted Hands," is now out in paperback. Wouldn't this story make a
wonderful movie? Any producers in between jobs and looking for an