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BCM - Baylor College of Medicine

Giving life to possible

Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum

DeBakey as a Surgeon

Best known for his trailblazing efforts in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey was the first to perform successful excision and graft replacement of aneurysms of the thoracic aorta and obstructive lesions of the major arteries. A pioneer in the development of an artificial heart, he was the first to use a partial artificial heart -- a left ventricular bypass pump, successfully.

In 1953, DeBakey performed the first successful carotid endarterectomy, thereby establishing the field of surgery for strokes. In 1963, he received the first federally funded grant to establish a program for the development of artificial heart pumps, a project on which he had long labored. In the 1950s, he also developed the first Dacron grafts designed to replace areas of arteries weakened by aneurysms. In 1964, DeBakey and associates performed the first successful aortocoronary-artery bypass with autogenous vein graft. In 1966, he was the first to successfully implant a left ventricular assist device, which helped failing hearts pump blood. In 1968, he led a team of surgeons in a historic multiple-transplantation procedure in which the heart, kidneys, and one lung of a donor were transplanted to four recipients.

He and colleagues developed the DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device, which he believed could help a failing heart pump blood. He believed that two working together could function as a total heart replacement.

A prolific physician and teacher, DeBakey performed more than 60,000 cardiovascular procedures and trained more than 1,000 surgeons who now practice throughout the world. The Michael E. DeBakey International Cardiovascular Surgical Society was founded Jan. 20, 1977, in honor of his dedication to teaching. Subsequently renamed the Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society, this organization perpetuates DeBakey's vision through scholarship, training and recognition.