Famous heart surgeon DeBakey dies
In the late Sixies and early Seventies, news of heart transplants and artificial hearts was splashed over front pages around the world. Dr. Michael DeBakey was in the forefront of such research. He pioneered surgical treatments which are common now, but were international news when first inroduced.
HOUSTON (AP) — Dr. Michael DeBakey, the world-famous cardiovascular surgeon who pioneered such now-common procedures as bypass surgery and invented a host of devices to help heart patients, died Friday night at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, officials announced. He was 99.
DeBakey died from "natural causes," according to a written statement issued early Saturday by spokesmen for Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital.
A tireless worker and a stern taskmaster, DeBakey literally had scores of patients under his care at any one time, helping to establish his name as a leading cardiovascular surgeon. By 1992, he had performed more than 50,000 surgeries.
"Man was born to work hard," he said.
His patients ranged from penniless peasants from the Third World to such famous figures as the Duke of Windsor, the Shah of Iran, King Hussein of Jordan, Turkish President Turgut Ozal, Nicaraguan Leader Violetta Chamorro and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
But he said celebrities don't get special treatment on the operating table: "Once you incise the skin, you find that they are all very similar."
He made headlines again in 1996 when he flew to Moscow to help examine ailing Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as a consultant when he underwent surgery.
DeBakey served as chairman of the President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke during Johnson's administration and helped establish the National Library of Medicine. He was author of more than 1,000 medical reports, papers, chapters and books on surgery, medicine and related topics.
DeBakey also trained hundreds of cardiovascular surgeons who now are practicing throughout the world.