Michael DeBakey

Michael DeBakey was the world's most innovative heart surgeon. He was one of the first surgeons to operate on the heart. He operated on world leaders including presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

He invented the use of pumps for heart-lung machines, of coronary artery grafting, and of blood vessel repair. He also invented the US Army's surgical field hospitals, which took the surgeons to the injured men. He helped to establish the Veterans Administration chain of hospitals to care for retired soldiers and to form the US National Library of Medicine, which is an open-access source of medical information.

He was born Michel Dabaghi, the son of French-speaking Lebanese Christian immigrants. As a 23-year-old medical student he invented the roller pump, which two decades later became an essential component of heart-lung machines.

Among other career highlights, he worked in the US Surgeon General's office, and in 1945 he received the US Legion of Merit.

He developed a graft for arterial surgery using Dacron polyester, making it into a tube on his sewing machine at home. In 1953 he performed the first removal of a blockage in a neck artery, and in 1956 the world's first patch-graft angioplasty. Around this time, he did the first aneurysm repair. In 1963 he was the first to use interactive telemedicine, so that an expert in America, for instance, can supervise surgery in Iraq. In 1966 DeBakey was the first to successfully use an artificial partial heart on a patient who was too ill to come off a heart-lung machine after open-heart surgery. In 1968 he performed the first of 12 heart transplants.

Source: Michael DeBakey
Copyright Independent.co.uk

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