Dr. Michael DeBakey, cardiovascular sciences pioneer, passed away at age 99

July 14, 2008 by  

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He is a legend in cardiovascular medicine. He is a pioneer in open-heart surgery and cardiovascular devices. He was instrumental in developing innovations such as heart pumps and artificial hearts, and interventions such arterial bypass surgery and heart transplants. Dr. Michael DeBakey, the legendary innovator and doctor dies of natural causes at the age of 99, Dallas Morning News reports.

With his medical innovations, DeBakey saved the lives of thousands- even millions of people from all walks of life, the known and unknown, the young and the old, the rich and the poor. He is also instrumental in the development of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (M.A.S.H.) for the American military, an innovation which save American lives in the front. He himself was touched by the monster of heart disease when his first wife died of a heart attack in 1972. He benefited from his own invention when he had to undergo heart surgery to fix a damaged aorta in 2006.

For his innovations, Dr. DeBakey, native of the state of Louisiana, was conferred several prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.

Earlier this year, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest honor granted to a civilian, for his lifetime achievement in the medical field (Dallas News).

President Geroge W Bush, who presented the award at the Capitol, noted that the medal has rarely been given to scientists but those who received the honor were iconic and included the likes of Thomas Edison and Walter Reed. To quote the American president:

“Today we gather to recognize that Michael DeBakey’s name belongs among them…His legacy is holding the fragile and sacred gift of human life in his hands – and returning it unbroken.”

In his acceptance speech, DeBakey urged the US Congress to do more to provide health care for America’s needy.

However, DeBakey’s efforts to promote health care are not only restricted to the US.

[He] continues to devote considerable time to national advisory committees and to consultantships in Europe and the Middle and Far East, where he has helped to establish health care systems”

Aside from medical innovations, DeBakey is instrumental in educating younger generations of heart doctors. He practically set up the Baylor College of Medicine as well as the first National Heart and Blood Vessel Research and Demonstration Center. He led the movement to set up the National Library of Medicine. He authored and co-authored over a thousand of medical articles as well as popular resource guides for the public such as The New Living Heart, The Living Heart Shopper’s Guide and The Living Heart Diet.

According to the president of the American Heart Association, Dr. Timothy Gardner:

“DeBakey’s legacy will live on in so many ways — through the thousands of patients he treated directly and through his creation of a generation of physician educators, who will carry his legacy far into the future. His advances will continue to be the building blocks for new treatments and surgical procedures for years to come.”



Dallas Morning News, July 13, 2008

Michael DeBakey’s Biography, Women’s International Center

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