Michael DeBakey, the surgeon who performed the first aorto-coronary artery bypass, died July 11, from natural causes at Methodist Hospital in Houston. He was 99.
DeBakey, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was born in 1908 in Lake Charles, La., and entered medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1928. During his career, DeBakey is reported to have performed 60,000 heart surgeries. In addition to performing the first coronary artery bypass, he is credited with developing Mobile Army Surgical Hospital units, performing the first carotid artery blockage removal, and the first patch-graft angioplasty. In 1968, he performed his first heart transplant and also led a team of surgeons in a multiple transplantation procedure in which one donors heart, kidneys, and lung were transplanted into four recipients.
Dr. DeBakey single-handedly raised the standard of medical care, teaching and research around the world, said George Noon, a cardiovascular surgeon and longtime partner of DeBakeys in a news release issued by Baylor College of Medicine. He was the greatest surgeon of the 20th century, and physicians everywhere are indebted to him for his contributions to medicine. (For a longer version of this story, please click here.) -- by Andis Robeznieks