September 7, 1908
|Died||July 11, 2008 (aged 99)|
Houston, Texas, US
|Education||Tulane University (BS, MD)|
|Relatives||Lois DeBakey (sister)|
Selma DeBakey (sister)
Michael Ellis DeBakey (September 7, 1908 – July 11, 2008) was a Lebanese-American general and cardiovascular surgeon, scientist and medical educator who became Chairman of the Department of Surgery, President, and Chancellor of Baylor College of Medicine at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. His career spanned nearly eight decades.
Born to Lebanese immigrants, DeBakey was inspired to pursue a career in medicine by the physicians that he had met at his father's drug store, and he simultaneously learned sewing skills from his mother. He subsequently attended Tulane University for his premedical course and Tulane University School of Medicine to study medicine. At Tulane, he developed a version of the roller pump, which he initially used to transfuse blood directly from person to person and which later became a component of the heart–lung machine. Following early surgical training at Charity Hospital, DeBakey was encouraged to complete his surgical fellowships in Europe, before returning to Tulane University in 1937. During the Second World War, he worked in the Surgical Consultants Division of the Office of the Army Surgeon General, and later was involved in the establishment of the Veterans Administration.
DeBakey's surgical innovations included novel procedures to repair aortic aneurysms and dissections, the development of ventricular assist devices, and the introduction of prosthetic vascular substitutes. DeBakey received a number of awards, including the Albert Lasker Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and the Congressional Gold Medal. In addition, a number of institutions bear his name.
Early life and education
Michael DeBakey was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana on September 7, 1908. His parents, Shiker and Raheeja Dabaghi (the name was anglicized to DeBakey before Michael's birth) were immigrants from Marjeyoun, Lebanon (then Ottoman Syria) although they did not meet until both were living in the United States. Shiker, who had been a traveling salesman, settled in Lake Charles in the early 1900s and began to establish retail businesses, particularly general and drug stores. Both of them spoke French. Young Michael helped out with manual chores and keeping the books. DeBakey was the eldest of five children. His brother Ernest also became a physician, specializing in general and thoracic surgery. His sisters Lois and Selma were also scholarly, and eventually joined their eldest brother at Baylor College of Medicine as faculty members in medical communications. Another sister, Selena, died in 1952.
As a child, DeBakey learned to play the saxophone and was taught by his mother to sew, crochet, knit and tat. He could sew his own shirt by the age of 10. He also became intrigued with the Encyclopædia Britannica and is said by colleagues to have read it from beginning to end. He learned French and German and participated in a Boy Scout troop. He won awards for vegetables he had grown in his garden.
DeBakey attended Tulane University, where he enrolled in a six-year program that combined undergraduate and medical school. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in 1930 and M.D. in 1932.
During his final year in medical school at Tulane University, and prior to the establishment of blood banks, DeBakey adapted old pumps and rubber tubing and developed a version of the roller pump. He used the pump to transfuse blood directly and continuously from person to person, and this later became a component of the heart–lung machine.
Postgraduate surgical training
Between 1933 and 1935, DeBakey remained in New Orleans to complete his internship and residency in surgery at Charity Hospital, and in 1935, he received a MS for his research on stomach ulcers. As was the trend for ambitious training surgeons at the time, and as his mentors Rudolph Matas and Alton Ochsner had done before him, DeBakey was encouraged to complete his surgical fellowships at the University of Strasbourg, France, under Professor René Leriche, and at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, under Professor Martin Kirschner.
Returning to Tulane Medical School, DeBakey served on the surgical faculty from 1937 to 1948.
Second World War
During the Second World War, DeBakey served in the US Army in the Surgical Consultants’ Division in the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army. In 1945, he was given the Legion of Merit award. Although sometimes credited in recent years for establishing the system of Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, research has shown that DeBakey actually led the effort to prevent the establishment of these units.
Remaining in the U.S. Army for a year after the end of the war, he was instrumental in the ongoing care of wounded servicemen and helped establish the Veterans Administration and the Medical Follow-Up Agency. After the war, he returned to Tulane.
Postwar surgical career
DeBakey joined the faculty of Baylor University College of Medicine (now known as the Baylor College of Medicine) in 1948, serving as chairman of the surgical department until 1993. DeBakey was president of the college from 1969 to 1979, and served as its chancellor from 1979 to January 1996, when he was named chancellor emeritus. He was Olga Keith Wiess and Distinguished Service Professor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the DeBakey Heart Center for research and public education at Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital.
DeBakey was a member of the medical advisory committee of the Hoover Commission and was chairman of the President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke during the Johnson Administration. He worked in numerous capacities to improve national and international standards of health care. Among his numerous consultative appointments, he served 3 terms on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health.
Death of the Shah of Iran
In 1980 DeBakey was a consultant in the care of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the exiled Shah of Iran, who was in the terminal stages of lymphoma. Due to hypersplenism, the Shah underwent splenectomy in Cairo on March 28, 1980, with DeBakey supervising a team of surgeons. At operation, the Shah was found to be harboring widely metastatic disease. Several complications developed in the postoperative period, including a subphrenic abscess and pneumonia. Although these were successfully treated, the Shah succumbed from his malignancy on July 27.
In the 1950s, DeBakey's observations and classification of atherosclerotic blood vessels permitted innovations in the treatments of vascular disease. His pursuit of the ideal material to make grafts led him to a department store that had run out of nylon, so he settled on polyethylene terephthalate (Dacron) and bought a yard of the material. Using his wife's sewing machine, DeBakey produced the first arterial Dacron grafts to replace or repair blood vessels. He subsequently collaborated with a research associate from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science to create a knitting machine for making grafts.
DeBakey was among the earliest surgeons to perform coronary artery bypass surgery. A pioneer in the development of an artificial heart, he was among the first to use an external heart pump successfully in a patient – a left ventricular bypass pump.
In 1958, to counteract narrowing of an artery caused by an endarterectomy, DeBakey performed the first successful patch-graft angioplasty. This procedure involved patching the slit in the artery from an endarterectomy with a Dacron or vein graft. The patch widened the artery so that when it closed, the channel of the artery returned to normal size.
In the 1960s, DeBakey and his team of surgeons performed some of the early instances of surgeries on film.
Views on animal research
DeBakey founded and chaired the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), whose goal is to promote public understanding and support for animal research. DeBakey made wide use of animals in his research. He antagonized animal rights and animal welfare advocates who oppose the use of animals in the development of medical treatment for humans when he claimed that the "future of biomedical research; and ultimately human health" would be compromised if shelters stopped turning over surplus animals for medical research. Responding to the need for animal research, DeBakey stated that "These scientists, veterinarians, physicians, surgeons and others who do research in animal labs are as much concerned about the care of the animals as anyone can be. Their respect for the dignity of life and compassion for the sick and disabled, in fact, is what motivated them to search for ways of relieving the pain and suffering caused by diseases."
Later surgical career
DeBakey continued to practice medicine until his death in 2008 at the age of 99. His contributions to the field of medicine spanned the better part of 75 years. DeBakey operated on more than 60,000 patients, including several heads of state. DeBakey and a team of American cardiothoracic surgeons, including George Noon, supervised quintuple-bypass surgery performed by Russian surgeons on Russian president Boris Yeltsin in 1996.
In late 2005, DeBakey suffered an aortic dissection. Years prior, DeBakey had pioneered the surgical treatment that now bears his name to treat this condition. A sharp chest pain sent him to Houston Methodist Hospital, where the diagnosis was confirmed by a CT scan. DeBakey initially resisted the surgical option, but as his health deteriorated and DeBakey became unresponsive, the surgical team opted to proceed with surgical intervention. In a controversial decision, Houston Methodist's ethics committee approved the operation; on February 9–10, DeBakey at age 98 became the oldest patient ever to undergo the surgery for which he was responsible. The operation by George Noon to repair his aorta with a Dacron graft, similar to one he had pioneered decades earlier, lasted seven hours. After a complicated post-operative course that required eight months in the hospital at a cost of over one million dollars, DeBakey was released in September 2006 and returned to good health to live for another two years.
Selected honors and awards
DeBakey became a member of numerous learned societies, gained 36 honorary degrees and was the recipient of hundreds of awards.
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science. He was a Health Care Hall of Famer, a Lasker Luminary and a recipient of the United Nations Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Foundation for Biomedical Research and in 2000 was cited as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. On April 23, 2008, he received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. DeBakey's major awards include:
- US Army Legion of Merit (1945)
- American Medical Association Hektoen Gold Medal (1954 and 1970)
- Rudolph Matas Award in Vascular Surgery (1954)
- International Society of Surgery Distinguished Service Award (1958)
- René Leriche Prize from the International Surgical Society (1959)
- American Medical Association Distinguished Service Award (1959)
- Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research (1963)
- American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award (1967)
- Prix International Dag Hammarskjold Great Collar with Golden Medal (1967)
- American Heart Association Gold Heart Award (1968)
- Medal of Freedom with Distinction (1969)
- Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award (1969)
- Yugoslavian Presidential Banner and Sash (1971)
- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Academy of Sciences 50th Anniversary Jubilee Medal (1973)
- Independence of Jordan Medal (1980)
- American Surgical Association Distinguished Service Award (1981)
- National Medal of Science (1987)
- Merit Order of the Republic of Egypt (1980)
- International Society of Surgery Distinguished Service Award (1981)
- National Medal of Science (1987)
- Theodore E. Cummings Memorial Prize for Outstanding Contributions in Cardiovascular Disease (1987)
- International Platform Association George Crile Award as the Trailblazer in Open Heart Surgery (1988)
- Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Award (1988)
Others awards include:
- Honorary Doctorate of Science from Universidad Francisco Marroquín (1989)
- Special Award for Space Technology Utilization (1997)
- MUSC Lindbergh-Carrel Prize (2002)
- Lomonosov Large Gold Medal, Russian Academy of Sciences (2003)
- The Denton A. Cooley Leadership Award (January 21, 2009)
Personal and family
DeBakey married Diana Cooper after returning from Europe in 1937, and they had four sons: Michael, Dennis, Ernest and Barry. After Diana died in 1972, he married German actress Katrin Fehlhaber, with whom he had a daughter, Olga-Katarina.
DeBakey has been described as a "tough taskmaster" by colleagues and trainees. Former trainee Jeremy R. Morton described how “he could be sweet as dripping honey when it came to patients and medical students, but could be brutal with surgical residents."
Death and legacy
DeBakey died from natural causes at Houston Methodist Hospital on July 11, 2008, at the age of 99. After lying in repose in Houston's City Hall, the first ever to do so, DeBakey received a memorial service at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on July 16, 2008. He was granted ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery by the Secretary of the Army. On January 21, 2009, DeBakey became the first posthumous recipient of the Denton A. Cooley Leadership Award.
Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society
In 1976, DeBakey's trainees students founded the Michael E. DeBakey International Cardiovascular Surgical Society, which later changed its name to the Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society. Every two years, the Michael E. DeBakey Surgical Award is given.
Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum
In early 2008, DeBakey attended the groundbreaking for the new Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which honors his life, work and dedication to care and teaching. The museum officially opened on Friday, May 14, 2010.
DeBakey Medical Foundation
In honor of DeBakey, the DeBakey Medical Foundation, in conjunction with Baylor College of Medicine, annually selects recipients of the Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Awards. The awards recognize faculty who have published outstanding scientific research contributions to clinical or basic biomedical research. The awards are funded by the DeBakey Medical Foundation and have funded researchers from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Texas Children's Cancer Center.
The foundation helped to establish the Michael E. DeBakey, Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Endowed Scholarship Fund in Medical Humanities at Baylor University. The scholarship designates award recipients as "DeBakey Scholars" in recognition of the legacy of the DeBakey family.
Other DeBakey institutes
The DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston at the Texas Medical Center in Houston are named after DeBakey. He had a role in establishing the Michael E. DeBakey Heart Institute at the Hays Medical Center in Kansas. Several atraumatic vascular surgical clamps and forceps that DeBakey introduced also bear his name. The Michael E. DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, founded as a collaboration between Texas A&M, the Baylor College of Medicine and the UT Health Science Center at Houston for cardiovascular research, was named after DeBakey.
DeBakey's writings are reflected in his authorship or co-authorship in more than 1,300 published medical articles, chapters, and books on various aspects of surgery, medicine, health, medical research, and medical education, as well as ethical, socio-economic and philosophic discussion in those fields. In addition to his scholarly writings, DeBakey co-authored popular works including The Living Heart, The Living Heart Shopper's Guide and The Living Heart Guide to Eating Out. His publications include:
- " A Simple Continuous Flow Blood Transfusion Instrument", New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal (1934)
- The living heart. Co-authored with Antonio M Gotto and Mediziner Italien, Charter Books (1977), ISBN 9780441485505
- The Living heart diet, New York: Raven Press (1984), ISBN 9780890046722
- New living heart. Co-authored with Antonio M Gotto, Holbrook (1997), ISBN 9781558507227
- The Living Heart in the 21st Century. Co-authored with Antonio Gotto and George P. Noon, Prometheus (2012), ISBN 9781616145644
DeBakey worked on his first book with Gilbert Wheeler Beebe after World War II:.
- Battle Casualties Incidence, Mortality, and Logistic Considerations, co-authored with G. W. Beebe, Springfield, Ill. : Charles C. Thomas (1952)
- Miller, Craig (2019). A Time for All Things: The Life of Michael E. DeBakey. Oxford University Press. pp. 523–30. ISBN 978-0-19-007394-7.
- Caroline Richmond (July 14, 2008). "Michael DeBakey: Cardiovascular surgeon whose innovations revolutionised the treatment of heart patients". The Independent.
- Altman, Lawrence K. (July 13, 2008). "Michael DeBakey, Rebuilder of Hearts, Dies at 99". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Ackerman, Todd; Eric Berger (July 12, 2008). "Dr. Michael DeBakey: 1908-2008". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
- "The Michael E. DeBakey Papers: Biographical Information". profiles.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- "DeBakey Surgical Innovations". Baylor College of Medicine. Archived from the original on June 5, 2010. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
- Gotto, Antonio M. (April 11, 1991). "Profiles in Cardiology; Michael DeBakey". Clinical Cardiology. 14 (12): 1007–1010. doi:10.1002/clc.4960141213. PMID 1841017. S2CID 73299837.
- Miller, Craig (2019). A Time for All Things: The Life of Michael E. DeBakey. Oxford University Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-19-007394-7.
- Patricia Sullivan (July 13, 2008). "Michael DeBakey – cardiac surgery pioneer who saved thousands in his 70-year career". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- Cooley, Denton A. (2008). "In Memoriam: Michael E. DeBakey, 1908–2008". Texas Heart Institute Journal. 35 (3): 233–234. ISSN 0730-2347. PMC 2565528.
- Weisse, Allen B. (2012). "100,000 Hearts: A Surgeon's Memoir by Denton A. Cooley, MD". Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center). 25 (3): 297–299. doi:10.1080/08998280.2012.11928859. ISSN 0899-8280. PMC 3377308.
- Miller, Craig (2019). A Time for All Things: The Life of Michael E. DeBakey. Oxford University Press. pp. 523–30. ISBN 978-0-19-007394-7.
- Lefrak, EA; Stevens, PM; Nicotra, MB; Viroslav, J; Noon, GP; DeBakey, ME (January 1973). "An experimental model for evaluating extracorporeal membrane oxygenator support in acute respiratory failure". The American Surgeon. 39 (1): 20–30. doi:10.1016/0002-9149(71)90077-4. PMID 4686133.
- Hecht, Liz. "When will it end? Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Labs" (PDF). Banpondseizure.org. p. 99. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "Animal Research Saves Lives". Mofed.org. April 7, 2002. Archived from the original on December 11, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- "Michael DeBakey, pioneer of heart procedures, dead at 99". Associated Press. July 12, 2008. Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- Altman, Lawrence K. (December 25, 2006). "The Man on the Table Was 97, but He Devised the Surgery". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Oransky, Ivan (August 16, 2008). "Michael E DeBakey". The Lancet. 372 (9638): 530. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61223-4. ISSN 0140-6736. S2CID 54378645. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
- Brunner, Nathan W.; Ignaszewski, Andrew (March 2011). "Aortic interlude: Dr Michael DeBakey, aortic dissection, and screening recommendations for abdominal aortic aneurysm". British Columbia Medical Journal. 53 (2): 79–85. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
- "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details | NSF - National Science Foundation". Nsf.gov. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "Heart surgeon DeBakey receives high honor". KTRK. April 30, 2008. Archived from the original on December 26, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- "Houston's DeBakey gets congressional medal in D.C." Houston Chronicle.
- "United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison". October 21, 2007. Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
- "Awards". Baylor College of Medicine. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- "Prize Winners - ISS SIC". iss-sic.com. International Surgical Society. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
- "Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. Biography and Interview". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "Universidad Francisco Marroquín". Ufm.edu (in Spanish). August 13, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- Marianne Dyson (1997). "1997 Space Technology Utilization Award". Rnasa.org. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- Lindbergh-Carrel Prize Archived February 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- "Selected Major Awards and Honors - In Memoriam, Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. - Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas". November 25, 2008. Archived from the original on November 25, 2008.
- "Denton A. Cooley, M.D." Academy of Achievement. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- "Transcript: DeBakey Video Profile". www.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "Baylor, Methodist mourn death of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey". Baylor College of Medicine. Archived from the original on June 1, 2010.
- Ackerman, Todd (July 15, 2008). "Houstonians view DeBakey's casket at City Hall - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- "Dr. DeBakey is being remembered in a way officials say has never happened | abc13.com". Abclocal.go.com. July 15, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- "U.S. Congressman John Culberson : 7th District of Texas : Blog Posting Detail". August 1, 2008. Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "News of Note 2009-02 - Remembering a Legend - DACLA". December 1, 2010. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "MEDISS |". Retrieved March 11, 2019.
- "Award Recipients - MEDISS". Retrieved December 29, 2019.
- "Discoverers of Small Regulatory RNAs and Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs to Receive Lasker Awards for Medical Research". MarketWatch. September 13, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2008.
- Museum History (August 8, 2013). "Museum History | Baylor College of Medicine | Houston, Texas". Bcm.edu. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle (May 14, 2010). "Baylor honors pioneer DeBakey with library, museum - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
- "Index - DeBakey Excellence in Research Awards - Baylor College of Med…". September 7, 2013. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013.
- "Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers Dr. Malcolm Brenner an…". September 7, 2013. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013.
- Fogleman, L. DeBakey Medical Foundation Supports Endowe d Scholarship Fund for Baylor University Medical Humanities Students. Baylor Media Communications. July 14, 2009.
- Ailawadi, Gorav; Nagji, Alykhan (May 1, 2010). "The Legends Behind Cardiothoracic Surgical Instruments". The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 89 (5): 1693–1700. doi:10.1016/j.athoracsur.2009.11.019. PMID 20417823. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "About Us". Michael E. Debakey Institute. Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Retrieved August 16, 2020.
- Video: A Dying King: The Shah of Iran
- DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine
- Methodist DeBakey Heart Center at The Methodist Hospital
- Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center
- Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society
- DeBakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Science and Biomedical Devices at Texas A&M University
- DeBakey Cell Lab at The Health Museum
- Lasker Luminary Dr. Michael DeBakey
- In Moscow in 1996, a Doctor's Visit Changed History – The New York Times
- Arlington National Cemetery
- The Michael E. DeBakey Papers – Profiles in Science, National Library of Medicine
- Appearances on C-SPAN