Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dr Michael E DeBakey, heart surgeon and ambassador to the world, dead at 99

Dr Debakey, the surgeon who invented a technique to repair a ruptured thoracic aorta with Dacron, as well as performing the first carotid endarterectomy, the first coronary artery bypass graft (there is some debate about that one), the first heart transplant, and designing the first artificial heart--the man was the heart surgeon of heart surgeons to the point that you can't diagnose an aortic aneurysm without describing its DeBakey classification or operate on the heart or aorta without asking for a DeBakey clamp--died Friday night at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. The number of lives this man touched is truly, simply humbling: he operated on 60,000 patients himself, and every heart surgeon in the world trained with him or with someone he trained, a family tree of surgical training.

Last spring, Esquire interviewed him for a "What I've Learned" column. His wisdom, in his own words, is the most eloquent obituary.

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