Dr. John Cordice, who operated on Martin Luther King after stabbing, dies

Story highlights

  • Dr. Martin Luther King was stabbed with a letter opener in Harlem in 1958
  • Dr. John Cordice helped lead the surgeons who operated on the civil rights leader
  • Cordice practiced in Harlem for more than 40 years, New York hospital group says

Dr. John W.V. Cordice, the surgeon who operated on Dr. Martin Luther King after he was stabbed in Harlem in 1958, died Sunday in Iowa, according to Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the agency that oversees Harlem Hospital, where King was operated on. Cordice was 95.

Cordice, along with Aubre C. Maynard, led the team of surgeons that operated on King after he was stabbed with a letter opener at a book signing in Harlem, according to the statement released Tuesday.

King's critical condition mandated that he be transferred to the nearest hospital, where Cordice and his team extracted the letter opener, according to a statement from New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation. King was discharged from the hospital 14 days later.

In a statement, HHC President Alan Aviles called Cordice "a brilliant clinical practitioner, a wise and thoughtful teacher, and a man of deep and abiding kindness and quiet modesty."

Cordice practiced medicine in Harlem for more than 40 years, according to the HHC statement.

In a statement, Cordice's family members said they are going through a difficult time.

"We can't imagine our lives without him and we thank the Almighty for giving him the compassion and the ability to use his gifts in service to others and we honor his life and feel greatly blessed," they said.

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