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Michael E. DeBakey

Michael DeBakey

Michael Ellis DeBakey
BornSeptember 7 1908 (1908-09-07) (age 104)
Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
OccupationCardiovascular surgeon and researcher

Michael Ellis DeBakey (born Michel Dabaghi)[1] (September 7, 1908) is a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon and researcher.


Early life

Dr. DeBakey's parents, Shaker Morris DeBakey and Raheehja Zorba [1], were Lebanese immigrants. He received his bachelor's and M.D. degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1937, Dr. DeBakey joined the Tulane faculty. He volunteered for military service during World War II, becoming the Director of the Surgical Consultants' Division in the United States Army Surgeon General's Office.

During his term in military service, Dr. DeBakey proposed a series of mobile field medical units called Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, or M.A.S.H. units, which allowed experienced medical personnel quick access to the wounded. During the Korean War, the concept proved highly successful, with the discovery that seriously wounded personnel who arrived at a M.A.S.H. unit alive typically had a 97% chance of survival with prompt medical treatment.[2]

Medical pioneer

Dr. DeBakey is best known for his pioneering work in cardiovascular surgery. In 1948, Dr. DeBakey moved to Houston, Texas, and became chairman of the Cora and Webb Mading Department of Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine (at that time called Baylor University College of Medicine). Dr. DeBakey was one of the first to perform coronary artery bypass surgery, and in 1953 he performed the first successful carotid endarterectomy. In recognition of his work, he received the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1963. In 1965 Time Magazine featured Dr. DeBakey on its cover for his pioneering work and innovations in cardiovascular surgery and the artificial heart. In 1971, he was placed on the master list of Nixon political opponents. [3]

DeBakey worked together with Denton Cooley, while they both practiced at Baylor College of Medicine. According to the April 18, 1969 issue of Time magazine, they had a disagreement associated with Cooley's apparently unauthorized implantation of the first artificial heart in a human. The disagreement turned into a bitter feud that lasted for decades; the two men only reconciled in 2007.[4]

To the amazement of his colleagues and patients, Dr. DeBakey continued to practice medicine into an age well after most others have retired. In 1969, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During the same year, the Baylor College of Medicine separated from Baylor University under his direction. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science. On October 2, 2007, legislation passed to award DeBakey Congressional Gold Medal.[5] Dr. DeBakey has operated on more than 60,000 patients, including Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who called him "a magician of the heart" after Dr. DeBakey and a team of American cardiothoracic surgeons, including Dr. George Noon, supervised quintuple bypass surgery performed on Yeltsin by Russian surgeons in 1996. [6]

Both the DeBakey High School for Health Professions and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston in the Texas Medical Center in Houston are named after him. Several atraumatic vascular surgical clamps and forceps that he introduced also bear his name.

Dr. DeBakey still practices medicine to this day. In 2008, Dr. Michael DeBakey will be 100 years old. His contributions to the field of medicine will have spanned the better part of 75 years. He's a Health Care Hall of Famer and a Lasker Luminary. He's a recipient of The United Nations Lifetime Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction and The National Medal of Science. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Foundation for Biomedical Research and in 2000 was cited as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress.

Recent health issues

On December 31, 2005, at age 97, Dr. DeBakey suffered an aortic dissection, the very condition that his pioneering procedure was designed to treat. He was hospitalized at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. DeBakey initially resisted the surgical option, but as his health deteriorated, the Houston Methodist Hospital Ethics Committee approved the operation; on February 9–February 10 he became the oldest patient ever to undergo the surgery for which he was responsible. The operation lasted seven hours. After a complicated postoperative course that required eight months in the hospital, at a cost of over one million dollars, Dr. DeBakey was released in September 2006 and has returned to good health,[6] and was present at Baylor College of Medicine for the groundbreaking of the new Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum on October 18, 2006.


  • Congressional Gold Medal
  • Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Academy of Medical Films
  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • Children Uniting Nations
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Foundation for Biomedical Research
  • International College of Angiology
  • International Health and Medical Film Festival
  • Research! America
  • Tulane Medical Alumni Association
  • U.S. Army Legion of Merit (1945)
  • American Medical Association Hektoen Gold Medal (1954 and 1970)
  • Rudolph Matas Award in Vascular Surgery (1954)
  • International Society of Surgery Distinguished Service Award (1958)
  • Leriche Award (1959)
  • American Medical Association Distinguished Service Award (1959)
  • Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research (1963)
  • American Medical Association Billings Gold Medal Exhibit Award (1967)
  • American Heart Association Gold Heart Award (1968)
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Academy of Sciences 50th Anniversary Jubilee Medal (1973)
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander-in-Chief’s Medal and Citation (1980)
  • American Surgical Association Distinguished Service Award (1981)
  • Academy of Surgical Research Markowitz Award (1988)
  • Association of American Medical Colleges Special Recognition Award (1988)
  • American Legion Distinguished Service Award (1990)
  • Premio Giuseppe Corradi Award for Surgery and Scientific Research (1997)
  • Russian Military Medical Academy, Boris Petrovsky International Surgeons Award and First Laureate of the Boris Petrovsky Gold Medal (1997)
  • John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award (1999)
  • Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member (1999)
  • Texas Senate and House of Representatives, Adoption of resolutions honoring Dr. DeBakey for 50 years of medical practice in Texas (1999)
  • American Medical Association Virtual Mentor Award (2000)
  • American Philosophical Society Jonathan Rhoads Medal (2000)
  • Library of Congress Bicentennial Living Legend Award (2000)
  • Villanova University Mendel Medal Award (2001)
  • Houston Hall of Fame (2001)
  • NASA Invention of the Year Award (2001)
  • MUSC[2] "Lindbergh-Carrel Prize"[3](2002)


  1. ^ according to the American Lebanese Medical Association (ALMA)
  2. ^ Congress awards gold medal to heart surgeon Michael DeBakey
  3. ^ List of White House 'Enemies' and Memo Submitted by Dean to the Ervin Committee. Facts on File, Watergate and the White House, vol. 1, pages 96-97. Copyright, Facts on File. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
  4. ^ The Feud
  5. ^ Sen. Hutchison’s Bill to Award Dr. DeBakey the Congressional Gold Medal Passes Congress
  6. ^ a b Altman, Lawrence K.. "The Man on the Table Was 97, but He Devised the Surgery", New York Times, 2006-12-25. Retrieved on 2006-12-25. 

"An Act of Desperation." Time. April 18, 1969.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Michael_E._DeBakey". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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