Father of heart surgery DeBakey dies at 99

July 13th, 2008 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Washington, July 13 (DPA) Legendary US physician Michael DeBakey, father of modern heart surgery, is dead. DeBakey died of natural causes Friday at the age of 99 at Houston’s Methodist Hospital, a hospital spokesperson told the Houston Chronicle Saturday.

DeBakey was known for his innovative bypass operations and heart transplants.

As one of the great surgeons of the 20th Century some of DeBakey’s patients were prominent like film diva Marlene Dietrich, former US president Lyndon Johnson and Russia’s former president Boris Yeltsin.

“Dr DeBakey’s reputation brought many people into this institution, and he treated them all: heads of state, entertainers, businessmen and presidents, as well as people with no titles and no means,” said Ron Girotto, president of The Methodist Hospital System.

“He always said that Methodist is a hospital with a soul and for more than 50 years, Dr DeBakey has been the heart and soul of Methodist.”

DeBakey worked at the hospital since 1949.

Perhaps the most important innovation medicine owes to DeBakey was his bypass operation, which he first accomplished in 1964. He replaced calcified coronary arteries with healthy veins, which he took from the leg - today the procedure is a common, often life-saving operation for heart-disease patients.

“He has improved the human condition and touched the lives of generations to come,” Girotto said. “We will greatly miss him.”

DeBakey performed more than 60,000 operations during his career.

Married to German film actress Katrin Fehlhaber, DeBakey got to know Frank Sinatra and two years ago he narrowly escaped death from a torn aorta. He was saved by the operation that he himself had invented.

In April US President George W. Bush presented the pioneer of cardiovascular medicine the Congressional Gold Medal, the nations highest civilian honour.
DPA

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