The Medical World Mourns a Pioneer

The world famous medical pioneer Dr. Michael DeBakey passed away late Friday night. He was responsible for pioneering the now-common procedure bypass surgery.

The world famous medical pioneer Dr. Michael DeBakey passed away late Friday night. Very appropriately, Dr. DeBakey lived a long, healthy life, passing away at age 99 at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. He was responsible for pioneering the now-common procedure bypass surgery, and was also at the forefront in the effort to produce artificial hearts and heart pumps to assist patients who needed to wait for transplants. In fact, DeBakey helped to create more than 70 surgical instruments.

In 1948, five years removed from its original home in Dallas, the Baylor University College of Medicine welcomed Dr. DeBakey to its family. At the time, the university was a fledging medical school; however, with DeBakey at the helm as the medical school’s president (and later, chancellor), the school formed its own identity and reputation.

Heads of state, entertainers, and presidents can be counted among the 60,000 heart surgeries that Debakey performed during his 70 year career. His excellent surgical skills regarded him as “the maestro of cardiovascular surgery,” as stated by his longtime colleague Dr. William T. Butler, and “the greatest surgeon of the 20th century” by colleague Dr. George Noon. He was also chairman of the President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke during Johnson's administration and helped establish the National Library of Medicine. DeBakey helped the library even more by contributing more than 1,000 medical reports, papers, chapters, and books on surgery, medicine, and related topics. In addition to the dozens of medical devices he helped create and the various administrations and institutions he helped establish and oversee, DeBakey also worked in Europe as director of the surgeon general's surgical consultants division during World War II and helped to develop mobile army surgical hospitals (MASH units) and specialized treatment centers for returning veterans.

A special person, let alone a brilliant surgeon and medical pioneer, like DeBakey only comes around once or twice in a lifetime. He was a tremendous, positive influence on the medical community, and everyone whom he helped, from patients to students to presidents, can certainly attest to his love of medicine and helping people. He will surely be missed.

Dr. Michael DeBakey bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_DeBakey

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