Michael DeBakey

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Michael DeBakey
Michael DeBakey.jpg
Michael Ellis DeBakey
Michael DeBakey

(1908-09-07)September 7, 1908
DiedJuly 11, 2008(2008-07-11) (aged 99)
Alma mater Tulane University
Awards Lomonosov Gold Medal (2003)

Michael Ellis DeBakey (7 September 1908 – 11 July 2008) was a Lebanese-American cardiovascular surgeon, scientist, and medical educator. [1] DeBakey was the chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, director of The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and senior attending surgeon of The Methodist Hospital in Houston. [2] [3] [4] He participated in important work in the treatment of heart patients. [5]

Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, is a health sciences university. It includes a medical school, Baylor College of Medicine; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; the School of Allied Health Sciences; and the National School of Tropical Medicine. The school, located in the middle of the world's largest medical center, is part owner of Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, part of the CHI St. Luke's Health system, and has hospital affiliations with: Harris Health System, Texas Children's Hospital, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann – The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Menninger Clinic, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated population of 2.312 million in 2017. It is the most populous city in the Southern United States and on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. With a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2), Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States. Though primarily in Harris county, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend & Montgomery counties.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.


Early life

He was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on September 7, 1908. [6] His parents were Maronite Christian Lebanese immigrants Shaker and Raheeja Dabaghi (later Anglicized to DeBakey).[ citation needed ]

Lake Charles, Louisiana City in Louisiana, United States

Lake Charles is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Founded in 1861 in Calcasieu Parish, it is a major industrial, cultural, and educational center in the southwest region of the state.

Medical career

Colonel Michael DeBakey, Medical Corps, US Army, October 1945-February 1946 7410062962 e303caa6fe oMichael DeBakey.jpg
Colonel Michael DeBakey, Medical Corps, US Army, October 1945-February 1946

DeBakey received his BS degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1932, he received an M.D. degree from Tulane University School of Medicine. He remained in New Orleans to complete his internship and residency in surgery at Charity Hospital. DeBakey completed his surgical fellowships at the University of Strasbourg, France, under Professor René Leriche, and at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, under Professor Martin Kirschner. Returning to Tulane Medical School, he served on the surgical faculty from 1937 to 1948. From 1942 to 1946, he was on military leave as a member of the Surgical Consultants' Division in the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army, and in 1945 he became its Director and received the Legion of Merit. DeBakey helped develop the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units and later helped establish the Veteran's Administration Medical Center Research System. He joined the faculty of Baylor University College of Medicine (now known as the Baylor College of Medicine) in 1948, serving as Chairman of the Department of Surgery until 1993. DeBakey was president of the college from 1969 to 1979, served as Chancellor from 1979 to January 1996; he was then named Chancellor Emeritus. He was also Olga Keith Wiess and Distinguished Service Professor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the DeBakey Heart Center for research and public education at Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

Tulane University private university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It is considered the top university and the most selective institution of higher education in the state of Louisiana. The school is known to attract a geographically diverse student body, with 85 percent of undergraduate students coming from over 300 miles away.

Tulane University School of Medicine

The Tulane University School of Medicine is located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States and is a part of Tulane University. The school is located in the Medical District of the New Orleans Central Business District.

He was a member of the medical advisory committee of the Hoover Commission and was chairman of the President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke during the Johnson Administration. He worked in numerous capacities to improve national and international standards of health care. Among his numerous consultative appointments was a three-year membership on the National Advisory Heart and Lung Council of the National Institutes of Health.

The Hoover Commission, officially named the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, was a body appointed by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 to recommend administrative changes in the Federal Government of the United States. It took its nickname from former President Herbert Hoover, who was appointed by Truman to chair it.

Lyndon B. Johnson 36th President of the United States

Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly the 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.

National Institutes of Health Medical research organization in the United States

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It was founded in the late 1870s and is now part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The majority of NIH facilities are located in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH conducts its own scientific research through its Intramural Research Program (IRP) and provides major biomedical research funding to non-NIH research facilities through its Extramural Research Program.

DeBakey served in the U.S. Army during World War II and promoted wartime medicine by supporting the stationing of doctors closer to the front lines which improved the survival rate of wounded soldiers in the Korean War. [7] [8]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Korean War 1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.

Medical pioneer

At age 23, while still in medical school at Tulane University, DeBakey developed a version of the roller pump, a component of the heart–lung machine. [9] [10] The pump provided a continuous flow of blood during operations. This, in turn, made open-heart surgery possible. The roller pump had first been invented for blood transfusions by American inventor Eugene E. Allen from 1881 through 1890 (US Patents 249285, 409000, and 425015).

Peristaltic pump

A peristaltic pump is a type of positive displacement pump used for pumping a variety of fluids, they are also commonly known as roller pumps. The fluid is contained within a flexible tube fitted inside a circular pump casing. A rotor with a number of "rollers", "shoes", "wipers", or "lobes" attached to the external circumference of the rotor compresses the flexible tube. As the rotor turns, the part of the tube under compression is pinched closed thus forcing the fluid to be pumped to move through the tube. Additionally, as the tube opens to its natural state after the passing of the cam fluid flow is induced to the pump. This process is called peristalsis and is used in many biological systems such as the gastrointestinal tract. Typically, there will be two or more rollers, or wipers, occluding the tube, trapping between them a body of fluid. The body of fluid is then transported, at ambient pressure, toward the pump outlet. Peristaltic pumps may run continuously, or they may be indexed through partial revolutions to deliver smaller amounts of fluid.

Heart Surgeon Michael E. DeBakey Michael E. DeBakey.jpeg
Heart Surgeon Michael E. DeBakey

With his mentor, Alton Ochsner, he postulated in 1939 a strong link between smoking and carcinoma of the lung, a hypothesis which other researchers supported as well. DeBakey was among the earlier surgeons to perform coronary artery bypass surgery, and in 1953 he performed the first successful carotid endarterectomy. A pioneer in the development of an artificial heart, DeBakey was among the first to use an external heart pump successfully in a patient – a left ventricular bypass pump.

DeBakey helped pioneered the use of Dacron grafts to replace or repair blood vessels. In 1958, to counteract narrowing of an artery caused by an endarterectomy, DeBakey performed the first successful patch-graft angioplasty. This procedure involved patching the slit in the artery from an endarterectomy with a Dacron or vein graft. The patch widened the artery so that when it closed, the channel of the artery returned to normal size.

In the 1960s, DeBakey and his team of surgeons were among the early instances of surgeries on film. [9] DeBakey hired surgeon Denton Cooley to Baylor College of Medicine in 1951. They collaborated and frequently worked together until Cooley's resignation from his faculty position at the college in 1969.

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to DeBakey 2007 Michael DeBakey Congressional Gold Medal front.jpg
The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to DeBakey

The DeBakey High School for Health Professions, the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston at the Texas Medical Center in Houston are named after him. He had a role in establishing the Michael E. DeBakey Heart Institute at the Hays Medical Center in Kansas. Several atraumatic vascular surgical clamps and forceps that he introduced also bear his name. DeBakey founded the Michael E. DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences as a collaboration between Texas A&M, the Baylor College of Medicine and the UT Health Science Center at Houston to further cardiovascular research.

DeBakey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science. [11] He was a Health Care Hall of Famer, a Lasker Luminary, and a recipient of The United Nations Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. 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. On April 23, 2008, he received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. [12] [13] [14]

DeBakey continued to practice medicine until his death in 2008 at the age of 99. His contributions to the field of medicine spanned the better part of 75 years. DeBakey operated on more than 60,000 patients, including several heads of state. [15] DeBakey and a team of American cardiothoracic surgeons, including George Noon, supervised quintuple bypass surgery performed by Russian surgeons on Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996. [16]

Health issues

On December 31, 2005, at age 97, DeBakey suffered an aortic dissection. Years prior, DeBakey had pioneered the surgical treatment of this condition, creating what is now known as the DeBakey Procedure. [1] He was hospitalized at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

DeBakey initially resisted the surgical option, but as his health deteriorated and DeBakey became unresponsive, the surgical team opted to proceed with surgical intervention. In a controversial decision, Houston Methodist Hospital Ethics Committee approved the operation; on February 9–10, he became the oldest patient ever to undergo the surgery for which he was responsible. The operation lasted seven hours. After a complicated post-operative course that required eight months in the hospital at a cost of over one million dollars, DeBakey was released in September 2006 and returned to good health. [16]

In early 2008, Dr. DeBakey attended the groundbreaking for the new Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, [17] honoring his life, work, and dedication to care and teaching. The museum officially opened on Friday, May 14, 2010. [18]


On July 11, 2008, DeBakey died at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, two months before his 100th birthday; the cause of death remained unspecified. [1] [19] After lying in repose in Houston's City Hall, being the first ever to do so, [20] DeBakey received a memorial service at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on July 16, 2008 [21] Dr. DeBakey was granted ground burial in Arlington National Cemetery by the Secretary of the Army. [22] On January 21, 2009, DeBakey became the first posthumous recipient of The Denton A. Cooley Leadership Award. [23]

Views on animal research

DeBakey founded and chaired the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), whose goal is to promote public understanding and support for animal research. DeBakey made wide use of animals in his research. [24] He antagonized animal rights and animal welfare advocates who oppose the use of animals in the development of medical treatment for humans when he claimed that the "future of biomedical research; and ultimately human health" would be compromised if shelters stopped turning over surplus animals for medical research. [25] Responding to the need for animal research, DeBakey stated that "These scientists, veterinarians, physicians, surgeons and others who do research in animal labs are as much concerned about the care of the animals as anyone can be. Their respect for the dignity of life and compassion for the sick and disabled, in fact, is what motivated them to search for ways of relieving the pain and suffering caused by diseases." [26]

DeBakey Medical Foundation

In honor of DeBakey, the DeBakey Medical Foundation, in conjunction with Baylor College of Medicine, annually selects recipients of the Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Awards. [27] The awards recognize faculty who have published outstanding scientific research contributions to clinical or basic biomedical research. The awards are funded by the DeBakey Medical Foundation and have funded researchers from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Texas Children's Cancer Center. [28]

The Foundation helped to establish the Michael E. DeBakey, Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Endowed Scholarship Fund in Medical Humanities at Baylor University. [29] The scholarship designates award recipients as "DeBakey Scholars" in recognition of the legacy of the DeBakey family.


DeBakey High School for Health Professions DeBakeyHighSchoolHouston.JPG
DeBakey High School for Health Professions


DeBakey's writings are reflected in his authorship or co-authorship in more than 1,300 published medical articles, chapters and books on various aspects of surgery, medicine, health, medical research and medical education, as well as ethical, socio-economic and philosophic discussion in these fields. In addition to his scholarly writings, he co-authored such popular works as The Living Heart, The Living Heart Shopper's Guide and The Living Heart Guide to Eating Out. Some of the references:

M. E. DeBakey: The living heart. Charter Books, 1977; Putnam Publishing Group, 1983

M. E. DeBakey: The Living heart diet. New York: Raven Press/Simon and Schuster, 1984

M. E. DeBakey: New living heart. Adams, 1997

Michael DeBakey and Antonio Gotto: The Living Heart in the 21st Century. Prometheus, 2012

DeBakey worked on his first book with Beebe after the Second World War:

M. E. DeBakey and G. W. Beebe: Battle Casualties Incidence, Mortality, and Logistic Considerations, 1952

See also

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