Dr. Denton Cooley

Denton A. Cooley was born in 1920. He graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas and earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Cooley helped fix a congenital heart defect in an infant, in an operation known as the “Blue Baby” procedure.

The International Surgical Society awarded Cooley the Reneé Lebiche Prize, its highest honor, in 1967. They called him “the most valuable surgeon of the heart and blood vessel anywhere in the world.”

Cooley transplanted a human heart in 1968, only a few months after Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful human heart transplant in the world.

A year later, Cooley implanted an artificial heart in a human being for the first time. The patient lived for 64 hours with the implanted device before it was replaced with a donor heart.

President Ronald Reagan awarded Cooley the Medal of Freedom, recognized as the nation's highest civilian honor. President Bill Clinton gave him the National Medal of Technology, which is the highest honor for technological innovation in the U.S.

Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker proclaimed Feb. 28, 2012, as “Dr. Denton A. Cooley Day” in Houston. This date is the last day of the nationally recognized Heart Month.

Source: Dr. Denton Cooley
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