Michael DeBakey was a renowned American cardiovascular surgeon, medical researcher, and inventor who was born on September 7, 1908, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He is considered one of the most influential physicians of the 20th century, having pioneered numerous surgical techniques and medical devices that have saved countless lives.
DeBakey’s parents were Lebanese immigrants who had settled in Louisiana, and they instilled in him a strong work ethic and a passion for education. He attended Tulane University for his undergraduate studies, then went on to study medicine at Tulane Medical School, earning his MD in 1932.
After completing his medical training, DeBakey became a surgical resident at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, where he developed a keen interest in cardiovascular surgery. In the 1940s, he began developing new techniques for repairing and replacing damaged blood vessels, and he eventually became known as the “father of modern cardiovascular surgery.”
DeBakey also made significant contributions to the development of the artificial heart, working with colleagues to develop the first mechanical heart assist device in 1962. His groundbreaking work in this field helped pave the way for the development of the first fully implantable artificial heart, which was approved by the FDA in 1982.
Throughout his career, DeBakey was highly regarded not only for his surgical skills and medical innovations but also for his commitment to educating and training the next generation of physicians. He served as a professor at Baylor College of Medicine for over 60 years and was a mentor to countless medical students and residents.
As for his wealth, while DeBakey’s net worth at the time of his death in 2008 is not publicly known, it is estimated that he earned a significant income from his medical practice and research endeavors. He was also the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Here’s a timeline of Michael DeBakey’s life and career:
- 1908: Michael Ellis DeBakey is born on September 7 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Lebanese immigrant parents.
- 1924-1928: DeBakey attends Tulane University in New Orleans, where he earns a Bachelor of Science degree in 1928.
- 1932: DeBakey graduates from Tulane University School of Medicine with honors.
- 1932-1935: DeBakey serves his surgical internship and residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
- 1935-1937: DeBakey completes his surgical fellowship at the University of Strasbourg in France, where he trains under Dr. René Leriche.
- 1937-1948: DeBakey serves on the faculty of Tulane University School of Medicine and practices surgery at Charity Hospital.
- 1942-1946: DeBakey serves in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving in North Africa, Italy, and France.
- 1948: DeBakey becomes chairman of the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, a position he holds for more than 50 years.
- 1953: DeBakey performs the first successful carotid endarterectomy to treat blockages in the carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain.
- 1964: DeBakey and his team implant the first successful ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical pump that helps the heart pump blood in patients with heart failure.
- 1965: DeBakey performs the first successful aortic aneurysm repair using a Dacron graft, a synthetic material that replaces the weakened portion of the aorta.
- 1966: DeBakey and his team develop the first portable heart pump, which can be used to support patients’ hearts during surgery or while waiting for a heart transplant.
- 1987: DeBakey is awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States.
- 1996: DeBakey performs his 60,000th surgical procedure.
- 2008: DeBakey dies on July 11 at the age of 99.
Throughout his long and illustrious career, DeBakey made countless contributions to the field of cardiovascular surgery and helped to pioneer many of the techniques and devices that are still in use today. His work has saved countless lives and improved the health and wellbeing of people all around the world.
Here are 5 interesting facts about Michael DeBakey, followed by 5 of his quotes:
- During World War II, DeBakey developed a mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) unit that could be rapidly deployed and set up in the field, which helped to save countless lives on the front lines.
- DeBakey performed surgery on several high-profile patients throughout his career, including Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George H.W. Bush, as well as the Shah of Iran.
- In addition to his work as a surgeon, DeBakey was also a prolific researcher and inventor who held more than 50 patents for medical devices and technologies.
- DeBakey was a strong advocate for medical education and training, and helped to establish several medical schools and training programs throughout his career.
- Despite his many achievements and accolades, DeBakey remained humble throughout his life, often attributing his success to hard work, perseverance, and a dedication to helping others.
- “Success in medicine requires application of the same qualities as in other walks of life—perseverance, hard work, self-discipline, and faith in one’s own abilities.”
- “To succeed in medicine, you need a good bedside manner with your patients and an equally good backside manner with your colleagues.”
- “The art of surgery is to cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always.”
- “I am constantly amazed by the resilience of the human body and its ability to recover from even the most serious illnesses and injuries.”
- “The key to success in medicine, as in any field, is to never stop learning and to always stay curious.”