July 14, 2008

Heart Doctor Pioneer Michael DeBakey Dies

Dr. Michael DeBakey, the famous cardiovascular surgeon that pioneered the bypass surgery and inventor of many devices to help people with heart problems, has died at the age of 99 from natural causes at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX. In 1932, while he was still in medical school, he invented the roller pump, which later became the most important part of the heart-lung machine. The machine takes over the responsibilities of the heart and lungs during surgery. He was also the pioneer in the development of artificial hearts and heart pumps to help people waiting for transplants. He had helped to create more than 70 surgical instruments in his lifetime.

In the 1950s, DeBakey was the first person to perform the replacement of arterial aneurysms and obstructive lesions. He had developed bypass pumps and connections to replace parts of diseased arteries.

He had performed more than 60,000 heart surgeries in his career that lasted 70 years. His patients had included the Duke of Windsor, the Shah of Iran, King Hussein of Jordan, Turkish President Turgut Ozal, Nicaraguan leader Violetta Chamorro, President Kennedy, President Johnson, and President Nixon. He was a consultant when Russian President Boris Yeltsin had surgery.

He served as the chairman of the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke during President Johnson’s administration. He had helped to establish the National Library of Medicine and was the author of more than 1,000 medical reports, papers, chapters, and books on surgery, medicine, and similar topics.

In 1953, he performed the first Dacron graft to be able to replace part of occluded arteries. In the 1960s he started coronary artery bypasses. In 1966, he was the first person to successfully use a partial artificial heart. In the 1990s, he helped to create the Michael E. DeBakey Heart Instititute at Hays Medical Center.

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